Here are some ideas on adjusting to the change.
A little look back
This weekend, we jump the clocks forward for Spring. Daylight Savings time (DST). The tradition of turning clocks ahead for the spring and summer months is often thought to be an agricultural push, but the roots of the practice took hold for a different reason.
Although Benjamin Franklin proposed the practice in the late 1700s and many European countries had implemented it in the 1800s, the United States didn’t adopt DST until the early 20th century. WWI called for energy conservation, and aligning the workday better with the sun hours saved fuel. After the war, DST was not mandated, but it was reinstated during WWII.
After that, the practice was left up to the states for consideration, and most states opted in. Arizona and Hawaii are the only two states that don’t observe DST. The residents of both states feel as though they get plenty of sunshine and heat throughout the year. For Arizona especially, not participating in DST conserves energy. Hawaii is so close to the equator that the sun rises and sets at the same time all year. This erases the need to “chase the sun” in the spring and summer months. Many US Territories, including Puerto Rico and Guam, do not observe DST for similar reasons.
Some prep is key
The spring forward means our sleep routines may be disrupted. You can avoid the dragging days after the time change by preparing for it. The week before the time shift, phase your bedtime a few minutes earlier each night. This will help your inner clock adjust to the differences more quickly and easily.
Bright ideas in the morning
To help your body adjust after the clock change, make sure to get a big dose of bright light in the a.m. when the sun does rise. This will signal your body to stop producing melatonin, better known as the “sleep hormone.” It may be still chilly, but a good breath of fresh air and a ray of morning sunshine on your face will go a long way in helping you feel awake. As soon as the sun is up, get outside on the patio or the porch, or any place on the landscape that gets the most sun. You may be surprised how much it helps.
Power naps only
Napping more than 20 minutes is probably a bad idea. Long naps during the week after the clock shift may push back your bedtime even later. In his new book, WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, researcher and writer Daniel H. Pink promotes the 20-minute nap. “If you nap for more than about a half hour, sleep inertia takes over and you need extra time to recover. If you nap for less than five minutes, you don’t get much benefit. But naps between ten and twenty minutes measurably boost alertness and mental function, and don’t leave you feeling even sleepier than you were before.” Mr. Pink suggests setting a timer for 25 minutes, to give yourself 5 to 7 minutes to nod off.
It’s important to move throughout the days after the clock shift. Many of us sit all day at desks and this can be sleep-inducing. Mr. Pink suggests 5-minute walks every hour, office yoga (or chair yoga), and push-ups. “You’ll boost your heart rate, shake off cognitive cobwebs, and maybe get a little stronger.”
Let’s not look at it as losing an hour of sleep but gaining an hour of outside time. Mr. Pink recommends “nature breaks” for everyone who is feeling sluggish throughout the day. “This might sound tree hugger-y, but study after study has shown the replenishing effects of nature. What’s more, people consistently underestimate how much better nature makes them feel.” The evenings will provide more light after the usual work day. Take a short stroll before dinner or get a nice hot mug of something nice and take it out on the patio.
So get up, get outside and soak in those delicate spring rays. You’ll be ready to spring forward in no time.