Oh yes, that day has arrived once again. The day we wake up thinking we’re on time, thinking we’ll have bacon and eggs with freshly squeezed orange juice, thinking maybe we’ll even read the Sunday paper. All of these wonderful wishes wither away the moment we realize it’s the beginning of daylight saving time (DST). Instead, we’re running late and breakfast will have to be skipped.
Thankfully, this scenario might not be as common these days. Our advanced alarm clocks and smartphones, even some thermostats, can now automatically adjust to make sure we wake up on time. Our bodies, however, have yet to find a guaranteed way to avoid the difficult adjustment that’s felt at the onset of, and during the days following, DST.
Here are 3 easy tricks to help you spring forward with the time with a spring in your step. (Badump bump.)
1. Acclimate slowly, ahead of time
One of the most effective ways to acclimate to DST is to start preparing ahead of time, anywhere from a couple of days to a week in advance. To do so, set a second wristwatch or manual clock an hour ahead, and try your best to live like it’s that time. This will help you adjust gradually. Your friends might think you’re nuts, but by the time Sunday comes around, you’ll find waking up easier, the day less tiring, and falling asleep as easy as counting sheep.
DST fact: DST begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning (which can feel like Saturday night if you’re a night owl). This means when the clock strikes 2:00 a.m., it instantly becomes 3:00 a.m. And poof! An hour of your life just vanishes (or so it seems). The exact Sunday varies each year, but it’s usually around the vernal equinox, or first day of spring.
2. Outrun the lost hour
If getting ahead of DST doesn’t work, you can literally try to outrun it. Exercise is known to increase serotonin levels in your body, and serotonin helps regulate sleep. Breaking a sweat during the day will make it easier to fall asleep on time and increase sleep quality, which will help your body adjust to the change in time. Just don’t work out too close to bedtime. Exercise increases your body temperature for up to 6 hours, making getting some z’s more difficult.
DST fact: The first country to use DST was Germany during World War I. They did so to save much-needed energy.
3. Avoid blue light near bedtime
Light is one of our body’s primary environmental cues, and the harsh light of our smartphones, laptops, and tablets can be quite confusing as nighttime approaches. The blue light emitted from these devices can suppress the production of the sleep-inducing chemical melatonin, resulting in low-quality, difficult-to-achieve sleep. The best way to avoid this is to simply stop using these devices near bedtime as DST approaches.
Now you might be thinking that’s easier said than done. Luckily, there are ways to minimize the effect blue light has on your melatonin levels. Two great examples are the f.lux™ app, which reduces blue light emissions from your electronic devices, and BluBlocker® sunglasses, which protect your eyes from blue light.
DST fact: In 1907, William Willett (not Benjamin Franklin) first proposed changing the clocks in a brochure, The Waste of Daylight.
Hopefully, these tricks will help make the transition to DST a little easier this year. Think of the abrupt adjustment and resulting lethargy that comes with DST as a sacrifice to get to those longer, brighter days that we all enjoy.