Spring forward and Fall back: Effects of biennial time change on parents' stress and sleep

This study inquired about parents' stress levels regarding the Daylight Saving time change and how the DST time change impacted their sleep duration. 
Daylight saving time and sleep in children 4-24 months of age Reading Spring forward and Fall back: Effects of biennial time change on parents' stress and sleep 6 minutes Next Neighborhood Noise and Child Sleep: Insights from Objective Sleep Data

Maristella Lucchini, Shambhavi Thakur, Thomas Anders, Natalie Barnett

Presented at World Sleep, Rio de Janeiro, 2023



Although a time shift of one hour might seem innocuous, it often takes more than one week for children to adapt to Daylight Saving Time (DST) changes. This could be “double trouble” for parents, as their own bodies try to adjust while caring for their children who struggle to sleep. Despite the fact that in the past couple of years this biennial time change has been at the center of much research and discussion in the political arena, there has been no study that has characterized the impact of the DST time change on parental stress and sleep. This is a very significant gap since new parents are already at risk for poor sleep and high stress, and this time change could act as a trigger leading to sleep and mental health deterioration. To address this gap in the literature, this study inquired about parents' stress levels regarding the DST time change and how the DST time change impacted their sleep duration. 


Among Nanit baby monitor users, we recruited 510 parents in the Fall of 2022 and 389 parents in the Spring of 2023 with children aged 4-24 months. Parents rated their stress level regarding the impact of the DST time change on their baby’s sleep and reported on their own sleep habits using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) one week before and one week after the time change. 


Before the Fall time change, 23% of parents felt fairly/very stressed, 45% a little stressed and 32% not at all stressed regarding the potential impact of DST time change on their infant’s sleep. In Spring, 18% felt fairly/very stressed, 49% a little stressed and 33% not at all stressed, with no significant differences in levels of stress between Fall and Spring (χ2=2.62, p=0.27). In the Fall, parents reported sleeping 6.5± 1.07 hr before and 6.5± 1.09 hr after the time change (Z=-1.14,p=0.25), while in Spring they reported sleeping 6.7±1.02 hr before the time change and 6.8± 1.04 hr after (Z=-1.08,p=0.3), but the change wasn’t significant. When stratified by age, we found that following the Spring time change parents of older infants (13-24 months) slept 10 minutes more on average compared to before the time change (p=0.02). 

Spring forward and fall back figures


Results show that biennial time changes lead to significant stress for parents both in Spring and Fall. Nonetheless, there was no significant change in self-reported sleep duration for the week before and after the time changes, except for parents of 13-24 month old children in Spring. This is in line with other results from our group, which highlighted that 13-24 month old children shift their sleep midpoint ~10 minutes later after the Spring time change, which might allow parents to sleep longer in the morning.

Spring forward and fall back

About the researchers

The authors include Maristella Lucchini, Shambhavi Thakur, Thomas Anders, and Natalie Barnett.

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  • Dr. Maristella Lucchini serves as Senior Clinical Researcher at Nanit. In her role, Maristella works to secure grant funding in collaboration with Nanit’s university research partners and supports the development of the company’s research collaborations around the world. Previously, Maristella served as an Assistant Research Scientist in the Division of Developmental Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center where she led projects across several cohorts focusing on sleep health for pregnant and postpartum women and their children. Maristella’s research focused on underserved communities and sleep health disparities in the perinatal period. During her years as a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in the Department of Psychiatry, Maristella was selected to participate in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Young Investigator Research Forum. She holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Politecnico di Milano.
  • Shambhavi Thakur serves as Clinical Research Data Analyst at Nanit. She holds a Masters degree in Health Informatics and Life Sciences. She oversees the research collaborations with various universities and analyzes sleep data for internal as well as external studies.
  • Dr. Thomas Anders graduated from Stanford University (1956) and Stanford University School of Medicine (1960). He completed psychiatry and psychoanalytic training at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, NY. A two-year post-doctoral research fellowship preceded his appointment as Director of the Division of Child Psychiatry at SUNY/Buffalo. He also has headed Divisions of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Stanford (1974-1984) and Brown University (1985-1992). At UC Davis, he served as Department of Psychiatry Chair (1992-1998) and then as Executive Associate Dean (1998-2002). His long standing clinical and research interests are in the areas of maturation of infant sleep-wake states and pediatric sleep disorders in children with ASD. He has been an NIH funded investigator and served as President of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2005-2007).
  • Dr. Natalie Barnett serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

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