Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday. At 2 am, the clocks will “spring forward” by an hour, and it will be 3 am in a blink of an eye.
People argue about whether or not we should go through this yearly disruption. It’s confusing and bad for the body. Heart attacks go up every year the week after the clocks spring forward. It disrupts sleep and throws off the body’s internal rhythm. Car accidents also increase as people are groggy and on the road an hour earlier, potentially when it’s still dark. On the other hand, people enjoy having the hour of sunlight in the evening, and crimes decline when there are brighter evenings.
Some states ignore it; Hawaii and most of Arizona stay on Standard Time all year round. Standard Time is the time in the winter. They never spring forward. Last year, the Senate passed legislation to make Daylight Saving Time permanent, meaning the clocks would spring forward and never fall back. The House of Representatives and the President haven’t passed that bill yet. In the 1970s, Pres. Nixon tried to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. It was abandoned after eight children were hit by cars while walking to school in the dark.
The problem of Daylight Saving Time isn’t a simple one. But you can help yourself by adjusting to it now so that your body is ready for it come Sunday. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier and set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier every day between now and Sunday. That way, on Sunday morning, you will be on schedule instead of feeling thrown for a loop. To help you transition, get outdoors as early as possible each morning. Daylight wakes up your brain and trains your circadian rhythm. It can help reset your wake and sleep cycle.
In addition to these Daylight Saving-specific tricks, you can help your sleep cycle in other ways throughout the year. Cutting out caffeine close to bed, not eating for several hours before bedtime and turning off your screens for a half hour before bed all help you go to bed sooner. You can build up a “sleep bank” this week to cushion the blow of “losing” an hour on Sunday. Studies have found that banking sleep aids cognition and motor skills for short periods and can help you during the adjustment period.
To help yourself ease into your week, change your clocks on Saturday night. Digital clocks on cellphones, computers and tablets will change themselves. But change any you control before heading to bed, so you aren’t confused in the morning. You’ll get to any meetups you have on Sunday on time, and your Monday will be smooth sailing!