Dreading Daylight Saving Time? Here's How to Adapt, According to an Expert

We are not looking forward to the end of Daylight Saving Time.

In the early hours of March 8, the majority of us in the U.S. (minus Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) will spring forward, losing an hour of precious sleep. That change to our biological clocks can have repercussions beyond making us feel extra sleepy come springtime.

We wanted to learn about how to prepare for, and cope with, the changes of Daylight Saving Time, so we reached out to Sleep Ambassador and Director of Sleep Health at RESONEA, Nancy Rothstein, to find out.

Sweety High: What are some of the major ways we're impacted when the time changes in the spring and we lose an hour of sleep?

Nancy Rothstein: You should expect to be extra tired when the time changes because your circadian rhythm is being impacted. You may find it more difficult to wake up in the morning, and stay awake during the day. It's a challenge, but it's normal.

Keep in mind that many people are already sleep-deprived. When they lose an hour of sleep on March 8, the adjustment to their body clock can be particularly challenging—and some people won't realize why. It doesn't even occur to them that the reason they're suddenly dragging more is because there's been a shock to their body clock.

When you're tired, your reaction times are also compromised. It's dangerous to drive while drowsy. If you or whoever's driving you to school is extra tired, see if somebody else can drive. You'll also want to be extra aware of the other people on the road, because they'll be impacted, too.

Shutterstock: Woman waking up exhausted at alarm

(via Shutterstock)

 

SH: With the time change on the horizon, are there any actions we can take to lessen its impact?

NR:  In the week or two before you spring your clock forward an hour, consider going to bed about 15 minutes earlier every couple of nights to get a head start on the adjustment. You can still set your alarm for when you actually need to get up for school, but even if you can get into bed a little earlier twice that last week, you're going to help your body clock and the adjustment won't be so intense. Within a few weeks, that will be your new normal.

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(via Shutterstock)

 

SH: What can we do following the time change to adapt more quickly to it?

NR: The most important thing following the time change is listening to your body. If it's four in the afternoon and you get home from school with work to do, but your body says you need rest, set a 20-minute alarm on your phone and take a power nap. If you can't do that, try setting your phone on vibrate and setting a 10-minute alarm while you close your eyes at the library. Even 20 minutes is proven to help.

If you're tired early because of the time change, go to bed.  Respect your sleep. Don't answer that extra text, or get back on social media. When you're exhausted and you know you can fall asleep, just go to bed. You don't want to get that second wind, especially with the time change.

Of course, it's harder in the morning when your clock says seven, but your body thinks it's six. It may even be dark in the morning suddenly. It can help to set your alarm and then put the phone across the room at night, so when it goes off, you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Also, expose yourself to daylight first thing in the morning. I don't normally recommend this, but if it's still dark out, or you don't have access to natural sun, you may want to look at your phone to expose yourself to blue light—but get out of bed so you won't be tempted to go back to sleep.

Also, avoid using your snooze button, because that's just wasted sleep. If you can get your family to eat dinner a little earlier, that will help, too. Get them to dim the lights in your house in the evening so you don't have bright lights everywhere, and avoid caffeinated drinks after four.

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(via Shutterstock)

 

SH: What else should we know about Daylight Saving Time?

NR: Remember that Daylight Saving Time is a manmade manipulation. It was originally done for energy reasons, but experts are finding that it doesn't particularly impact energy other than people's energy. Your body clock didn't ask you to spring forward—society asked you to do that, and your body will get confused. It may be saving time, but it doesn't mean it's saving you time. But by taking precautions,  you can adapt so it makes less of an impact.

 

For more valuable insights from Nancy Rothstein, click HERE to find out more about your circadian rhythm, and how a routine just might fix your sleep.