Spring forward, fall back.
It’s easy to deal with the end of Daylight Saving Time. You have an extra hour of sleep. Who can’t handle that?
The start of DST is harder. We’re robbed of an hour of precious sleep. Whether you have your bedtime routine down and are sleeping peacefully by 9:30 or are still awake to see the time jump from 1:59 to 3:00 am, it can easily throw you off.
Losing an hour of sleep on Sunday morning is just the start. You’re tired throughout the day, but when bedtime comes, you aren’t tired yet. You stay up late, and it takes weeks for you to get through the change.
It can be brutal, but you can also take it in stride. Here are four things I’ve found helpful when it’s time to spring forward.
- Change your clocks early. Why wait until you go to bed on Saturday to change the clocks? We have started changing the clocks on Saturday afternoon. This gives your brain a head start on thinking an hour ahead. (If you have someplace to be, just make sure you’re looking at the right clock.)
- Realize bedtime is an hour earlier. Until your body gets used to the change, your circadian rhythms still have you going to bed at the same time—now an hour late. You’ll need to start your bedtime routine before you’re tired. It may seem irrationally early, but your body will soon fall into the routine and you’ll adjust.
- Use lighting to your advantage. The mornings will be darker, and it stays light later. Turn on lights when you wake up (or use a natural-light alarm clock) to send yourself a clear signal the day has started. In the evenings, dim the lights to encourage yourself to wind down.
- Wade into the change. There is no reason you have to shift the entire hour forward at once. Over the week leading up to the start of daylight saving time, start waking up ten minutes earlier each day and going to bed ten minutes earlier. When Sunday comes, your body will be more-or-less adjusted and psychologically, it will feel great to “sleep in” until your normal wake-up time.
This is equally applicable (and perhaps more important) when you have kids. They’re going to keep on getting tired and waking up at the same times. This last October, my wife and I did a great job of using the time change to start getting up (and getting to bed) an hour earlier. Unfortunately, we didn’t prepare our daighter for the time change, so she did exactly the same.
Whatever you think of daylight saving time, it can be a disruption to your life. As with most disruptions, a little planning and forethought can help you take charge and stay in control.