Health & Wellness Articles

6 Tips to Deal with Daylight Saving Time

Time-Tested Ways to Cope with the Time Change

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It’s that time of year again, when we reset our clocks and try to readjust to the time change associated with Daylight Saving Time (DST). Some of us breeze through the change seamlessly, yet others feel out of sorts for days. If you have trouble dealing with this sudden disruption in your routine, it is for good reason.

Even though your brain knows that the time on the clock has changed, your body's internal clock does not. In the fall, when you’ve gained an hour of sleep, you might not feel tired, but you may get cranky when you have to wait an extra hour before your lunch break or when it feels like work should have ended an hour ago. When the clocks move forward in the spring, you'll be robbed of an hour of sleep. That night, you may not be able to fall into your normal sleep rhythms an hour earlier than you’re used to, and you won’t get as much quality sleep as you need.

Since its inception in the early 1900s, DST has been the subject of controversy. Studies are contradictory, showing that DST has both positive and negative impacts on health, safety, energy consumption, and the economy. A sampling of the issues includes:
  • Health: DST provides more daylight for outdoor exercise and yard work in the evenings, which could improve fitness levels. It also provides more opportunities for sun exposure, which triggers vitamin D synthesis in the skin. However, more sun exposure could lead to higher rates of skin cancer, according to some experts. And some new research shows that heart attacks increase the days following the spring time change (when we lose an hour), but decrease after the fall time change (when we gain an hour).
  • Safety: In the weeks following the spring time change, there are more traffic accidents. But overall, during the course of DST there are fewer traffic fatalities than during standard time.
  • Energy Consumption: While it had been hypothesized that DST would help to conserve energy, several studies have shown that DST leads to increased energy and fuel consumption.
  • Economy: Some industries, like retail businesses and golf courses, benefit from DST, as consumers have more time to shop and play. But other industries including farming, theaters, and prime time television suffer.
Despite the controversy, one thing is certain—DST will be around for a long time. So here are some time-tested tips for dealing with the time change:
  • Start early. The time change is usually scheduled for the wee hours of Sunday morning, in order to reduce the disruption of the workweek. To give yourself more time to adjust before the workweek begins, reset one of your clocks at the start of the weekend, such as Friday night or Saturday morning. Try to eat meals, sleep, and wake according to that clock. When Monday comes, you’ll be on your way to feeling adjusted. However, if you have activities and events during the weekend, make sure you don’t get confused about the correct time!
     
  • Exercise. Working out releases serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps our bodies adjust. Exercise regularly, preferably outdoors, and early in the day. A brisk morning walk is perfect. Avoid exercising too late in the evening though, as this could interfere with the quality of your sleep. Learn more about the connection between exercise and better sleep.
     
  • Nap wisely. Try to resist the urge to take long naps late in the day. If you get tired, take a short, energizing walk around the block instead. If you must nap, keep it earlier in the day and limit your snooze time to no more than 20 minutes.
     
  • Don’t imbibe. Alcohol interferes with normal sleep cycles, so don't rely on a nightcap to fall asleep. Find out about other foods and drinks that help (and hurt) your sleep.
     
  • Digest. After the time changes, you may be hungry for meals earlier or later than before. Be sure to give yourself ample time to digest your dinner before heading off to bed. A heavy meal in your stomach will interfere with the quality of your sleep, too.
     
  • Lighten up. The right combination of light and dark can help your body's circadian rhythm readjust so you can fall asleep on your new schedule and sleep more soundly. In the morning, open the shades and brighten the lights. Try to spend time outside during the day, if possible. Dim the lights in the evening, so that your body understands that it’s time to wind down.
Hopefully these suggestions will help you adjust more easily to the biannual time changes. If you’ve tried all of these suggestions, and you’re still having trouble adjusting to the time change after a few weeks, call your health care provider for more assistance.

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Member Comments

  • Pretty sure that DST has nothing to do with any of this. DST is something that should now be gone. We get more daylight in the spring due to the fact that the earth is tilting toward the sun in a different manner than during the winter (hence why we have the spring and autumn equinoxes [the days that have equal daylight to darkness hours] and the summer and winter solstices [the longest number of daylight hours and the least amount of daylight hours]). Let nature be our guide not the damned clock on the wall. We still only have 24 hours in a day trying to adjust the clock to maximize the daylight just ticks people off.

    I lived where there was no DST and it was heavenly not having to worry about the "lost" or "gained" hour.
  • Either stay on DST or go off it completely. This switching back and forth is terrible. When we lived in Indiana there was no DST. We managed fine.
  • I love the long days. Get up early before the rush then to lighter evenings great.

    I use to go the work at 0230 and that didn't matter what the clock said it was always dark and light coming home at 1200

  • The science in this article is laughable. More accidents, more electricity use due to time changes? Really? Not due to changes in amount of light, snow and ice, heat and use of air conditioning etc? Correlations are not causation.
  • I woke up at 4:45 am instead of 5:45 am, but I've seen and felt the advent of the time change for at least two weeks. I'd been going to bed a little later and getting up a little later unless I had a sleepless night. I hope by Wednesday I'll have adapted to this nonsense.
  • I didn't gain an hour of sleep. I usually get up at 5 without even setting an alarm. Right on schedule, my body woke up, but now it was 4 am. Two hours later I'm finally seeing sunrise. Oh well, I'll adjust eventually.
  • I think we should just pick a time and stick with it. Arizona doesn't change their clocks and they seem to cope just fine.
  • I like the time change - Spring ahead - Fall behind.
    Spring ahead more daylight for gardening, walking, visiting friends & relatives, etc.
    Get everything done & drive to my favorite spots to see beautiful sunsets.
  • the time change never bothers me. For about a week I cannot believe how late or early it is lol But I get over it and life goes on as it has every year.
  • I dislike DST. That said, though, my biggest beef with this article is that SP posted it as featured on Monday. Tip #1 - start early, and change your clock early. How about posting it on FRIDAY, SparkPeople?!?!?
  • Well I am up at 2:00 am - I would have been happy staying on the same time. Going to work when it is dark and getting home when it is dark.
  • Wish Arizona would go on daylight savings, its a real pain, no one else ever knows what time it is here!
  • Happy to live in Hawaii, we don't adjust our clocks, so no disruption there. I just keep forgetting to add the extra hour to the time difference when I call family on the mainland.
  • Unlike the previous poster, I find I need more than two days to adjust. When I'm on top of things, I start moving my clock back in 15-min. increments a week in advance. Then I'm 'there' when the morning arrives.

    Personally, I HATE dst--you don't "gain" or "lose" daylight; you just gain/lose a bit of convenience at the expense of all sorts of irritations (not least being confusion in international communication--si
    nce different countries start/end at different points, and the southern hemisphere moves in reverse of the northern, it becomes complicated twice a year to remember when it is where). When there was no/minimal electricity available, perhaps 'gaining' an hour made sense, but now so few people are dependent on natural light for their activities, it's a ponderous dinosaur that should be relegated to extinction.
  • i dont understand the people who have issues adjusting. my mom always changed our clocks before we went to bed on saturday night and i woke up on sunday feeling fine. even when i had to work at 4 in the morning i still had no issue adjusting to the time change. i like the spring time change better because that means longer days and more sun. the fall one makes me sad because then it starts getting dark at 5. i dont like that.

About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

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