Prepare for Daylight Savings Now

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, we will spring forward an hour. The clocks will change at 2 a.m., and we will "lose" an hour. When we "fall" back every year and get an extra hour in bed, it can feel wonderful. But needing to wake up an hour earlier can feel terrible. That's why you should start making changes now to ease into it by Sunday morning and be ready to really feel okay by Monday.

This yearly switch is actually damaging to public health. Fatal traffic accidents increase by six percent as we acclimatize to the shift. But, as well as this obvious sign of people being groggy, there are subtle problems as well. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states "accumulated evidence indicates that the acute transition from standard time to daylight saving time incurs significant public health and safety risks." There is a 24 percent increase in heart attack risk on the first Monday of daylight savings time in the spring.

Many people have called for stopping the yearly process of springing forward because of the dangers it poses and how outdated it is. For now, it's still happening, and you can help yourself be ready for it.

Start trying to go to bed and wake up 20 minutes earlier each night for the rest of the week. If you do that, come Sunday morning, life should feel okay. It won't feel perfect, but okay. There is no way to entirely ease into this. The light levels are one of the hardest things to adjust to. But the light levels are specifically why the clocks change. Daylight savings is intended to allow us to use less energy because we're awake for more daylight. But, you might be waking up in the dark on Sunday, depending on where you live. Try to get as much morning sun as possible, now and next week, it helps you wake up in the morning.

You should also start shifting your meals to be earlier. Meals cue your internal clock and schedule to know what time it is on a biological level. By moving everything forward a little bit, you'll prepare yourself for bedtime. Also, if you wake up hungry, eating dinner a little early can help you get up earlier the next morning because you'll want breakfast. If you are someone who usually drinks coffee, caffeinated drinks or alcohol in the evening, avoid it for the rest of the week and next week. All of them can stop you from getting a good night's sleep. You can shift to drinking the caffeine earlier in the evening but skipping the alcohol altogether can help you get a more restful night's sleep.

Switch all of your clocks Saturday night. It helps you to wake up to the correct time on Sunday morning. There's no confusion or trying to do mental gymnastics when you have what amounts to jetlag, and it can help you get your bearings. Some people like to have one clock set to the "old" time, just so that they can gauging how they are physically reacting to things, but it's better to make a clean break.     

Next week, help yourself by keeping your regular schedule. Don't sleep in. Don't take long naps. Pretend that the clocks have been that time for the last month and eat at a normal time. Sticking with your new, earlier meals might still be a good idea — after all, eating earlier in the day can be healthy. But, otherwise, don't alter your routine. That will help you adjust more quickly and help your heart and health stay on track!

Banner image: Kikki Starr via Unsplash
March 10, 2021

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