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Negative effects of daylight saving time on our biological clock and sleep duration

Dr. Cátia Reis

Dr. Cátia Reis

Chronobiologist, certified somnologist – sleep scientist by the European Sleep Research Society (ESRS) and a member of the ESRS Digital and Communication Committee. Researcher at the Catholic Research Center for Psychological, Family and Social Wellbeing (CRC-W-UCP) and at the Luisa Lopes lab IMM and the ISAMB, both from Faculdade de Medicina – Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal. Visiting assistant professor at the Catholic University in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Kate Porcheret and Dr. Cátia Reis from the ESRS’ Digital & Communications Committee sat together to discuss the daylight savings time problem and Reis’ findings in her recently published paper in the Journal of Pineal Research, this March 2023, entitled “The impact of daylight-saving time (DST) on patients with delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD)”. This interview was motivated by Reis’ recent research findings to support (with results based on scientific data) what is commonly known in the field of sleep, but sometimes difficult to explain (and reach) to the public. This is largely due to the rise in misinformation provided by journalists and the increasingly prolific content creators on the internet, which makes sleep professionals work harder.

Daylight saving time connection with sleep disorders

In much of Europe the clocks changed last weekend, March 26th, and we have now entered the Spring day light saving time of 2023.  So, we thought it would be a great time to talk to Dr. Cátia Reis about her work looking at the effects of daylight savings, in particular for people with delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD). Reis gives us a very brief overview as to why daylight saving is such a big problem, the effects seen in people with DSWPD, and her recommendations based on a study with delayed sleep-wake phase disorder patients.

Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD), often known also as delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) or just delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD), is characterised by a chronic misalignment between the internal and social timing, reflected by an inability to fall asleep and wakeup at conventional or socially acceptable times.  (vide preprint Reis et al., 2023)

Is daylight saving time good or bad for your sleep?

The paper shows that the longer the difference between solar time and clock time (called solar jet lag), the shorter our sleep duration. Patients with delayed sleep-wake phase disorder are particularly affected by this discrepancy, like having a very to extremely delayed chronotype. The recommendation is to abolish daylight saving time and stick to standard time for better entrainment to solar exposure. It’s important to focus on biology rather than economics when making these decisions for potential future health consequences.

The more the solar jet lag, the less sleep we get.

For further insights on Reis’ findings (and recommendations) on the negative effects of daylight saving time on our internal clock, sleep duration and DSPS patients, watch the entire interview below. You can also read the preprint publication (in open access) here.

Recent publications from ESRS members

  1. Torsvik et al. (2023). Prevalence of insomnia and hypnotic use in Norwegian patients visiting their general practitioner. Fam Pract.

  2. Stefani et al. (2023). Isolated rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder: clinical and research implications. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry.

  3. Lechat et al. (2023). High night-to-night variability in sleep apnea severity is associated with uncontrolled hypertension. NPJ Digit Med.

  4. Morairty et al. (2023). Activation of the nociceptin/orphanin-FQ receptor promotes NREM sleep and EEG slow wave activity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

  5. Scott et al. (2023). Sleep Irregularity Is Associated With Hypertension: Findings From Over 2 Million Nights With a Large Global Population Sample. Hypertension.

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