The start of daylight saving time and springing forward means our unsuspecting bodies (and our four-legged friends) will be jolted awake an hour earlier. Though one hour doesn’t sound like a lot of lost sleep, science shows that the time change can have a huge effect on our health and well-being.
The number of strokes and heart attacks actually increases in the days following DST while students’ SAT scores significantly decrease. Crazy, right? The fact is that the time change has the ability to throw your body and mind into a quick tailspin. But there are things you can do to protect your well-being. Here are a few helpful tips to keep you feeling your best during the start of daylight saving time.
WAKE UP EARLY THIS WEEKEND
We hate to start this list with something as “fun” as waking up early, but if you have to get up a whole extra hour earlier on Monday, you can get ahead of the time change by incrementally upping your wake time the weekend before. Even just two days of getting up just 15 minutes earlier than your normal weekday schedule will help cut the time change in half. That can have a seriously positive impact come Monday morning. Though you may not be completely eager to skip your normal weekend sleep-in, keep in mind that the numbers just don’t lie.
GET YOUR DAILY DOSE OF BRIGHT LIGHT—IN THE MORNING
An easy way to prep for the sleep transition is by getting some bright light into your morning routine. Doing so before the time change will help set your body clock so that you get a good night’s sleep in anticipation of the change, and doing so after the time change, will help you feel more energized on those otherwise groggy mornings. Sunshine. Light therapy. Sitting near a large window. Do what you must – just make sure that you get bright light before noon and not afterward. The closer to your wake-up time, the better and the more in line with nature you’ll be.
HEAD OUT INTO THE GREAT OUTDOORS
If you’re already heading out into the sunshine, this will be a simple one. Add some activity to your outdoor adventure to get your heart pumping and your glands sweating. We all know we sleep better after a day full of sunshine and exercise, so this one is a no-brainer. If it’s cold where you live, bundle up appropriately and make sure you dress in layers to regulate your body temperature safely.
GO TO BED EARLY THIS WEEKEND, TOO
For all you night owls, this is not the weekend to galavant around the town. And for all those early-to-bed folks, this is the weekend to delight in your early-bird ways. Simply put, going to bed early means that you’ll wake up early. (Need a quick reminder about why this is good? See the first tip).
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE WELL BEFORE YOUR BEDTIME
We’ve all heard it a million times, but this weekend it’s especially important to not use your phone in the hours before bed. Think about it—if your body is stimulated by blue light at the 11th hour in the day, it’s actually the 12th hour in the day, which is technically… tomorrow. So yeah, phones down, PJs on.
SET THE SCENE FOR SOME SERIOUS ZZZ’S
No great night’s sleep ever started with a glass of wine, an uncomfortably cold bedroom, and the tiny annoying blinking lights of electronic devices. This weekend is the time to treat yourself like you live at a spa. Hot tea, warm steamy bath, and total darkness with the slight hint of aromatherapy. If you’ve been putting off a luxurious weekend all winter, now’s a great time to indulge in a little R&R, and doing so will pay you back in dividends.
GET YOUR LANDING PAD READY
Continue your home spa weekend by creating the absolute most comfortable bed to rest your weary head. If you’ve been tolerating an uncomfortable pillow, putting up with sheets that pop off the corner of the bed, or a comforter that really needs a good dry clean, it’s time to fix these. Doing your future self a favor of creating a comfy sleep experience is truly worth it.
GET YOUR MINDFULNESS ROUTINE ON
Let’s be honest—we can do all these tips as a precursor to daylight saving time, but if the Sunday Scaries hit and we don’t have a game plan to deal with them, it’s going to be a long Sunday night and a way-too-early Monday morning. So be sure to carve out time for some mindfulness even if you haven’t practiced it all February long. THIS is your weekend. Promise yourself 15 minutes of mindful meditation, journaling, or deep breathing before bed. Better yet, don’t just promise yourself, but also tell a friend or a partner your plan. The social pressure of having committed to it out loud will make you more likely to actually do it.
Because if there’s one thing we can leave you with from this list, it’s this—know you’re not alone. DST can be really difficult for a lot of people, so if you’re having a tough time, reach out to a friend and try your best to get your sleep schedule back to normal as quickly as possible. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that friends and a good night’s sleep are what makes the world go round. Oh yeah… and, of course, our furbabies.
Strickland, A. (2018, March 8). “Why Daylight Saving Time Can Be Bad for Your Health.”
Spector, D. (2012, March 12). “Daylight Saving Time May Be Making Us Dumber.”