The idea of beginning Daylight Saving Time is attractive in many ways. In the spring and summer, days are longer, which means outside activities after work hours. It also marks the end of the dark days of winter. The downside, however, is that we all lose an hour of sleep. It’s like a nationwide jet lag experiment.
Daylight Saving Time for 2015 begins at 2 a.m. on March 8, when the U.S. and many other countries turn their clocks forward one hour. Check out these stats about that “lost hour”:
- According to a 2013 SleepBetter study, the United States loses $434 million in productivity due to the change to Daylight Saving Time.
- The number of serious heart attacks jumps 6% to 10% on the first three workdays after the start of daylight saving time.
- Men are more likely to commit suicide during the first few weeks of daylight saving time than they are during the rest of the year.
- The number of traffic accidents in the U.S. spikes on the Monday after the clocks move forward.
- Economists have found that sleep-deprived traders typically produce “large negative returns on financial-market indices” in the week following the shift to daylight saving time.
So, what on Earth can you do about it? Clearly, you can’t choose not to change the clocks in your house, but the best advice we have is to NOT change them before going to bed on Saturday night. The benefit of doing this is that you go to bed when you normally would, and you wake up after your normal amount of sleep. When you change your clocks on Sunday morning, it will just seem as though you slept an extra hour, which isn’t that unusual. Here are some other good tips:
- Try to start adjusting your sleep schedule before daylight savings time begins.Going to bed a little earlier every night and getting up a little earlier every morning, starting a few days before the time change, you can mitigate the shock to your system of losing an entire hour at once. Moving your bedtime and wake up time 15 minutes earlier for four nights in a row will do the trick.
- Avoid the temptation to nap. Science has shown there are benefits to napping, but in this case try to avoid it. If you’re truly exhausted on the first day of daylight savings time, give in and take a nap, but try to do it early in the afternoon rather than late in the day.
- Use light to reset your body clock. Utilizing bright light in the morning and dim light at night is the best way to adjust yourself to your new schedule. Eat breakfast in front of a window where the light shines in, and avoid bright lights in the evening.
- Keep the caffeine to a minimum. The first couple of days after daylight savings time maybe the time when you need a cup of coffee or a caffeinated soda the most, but try to avoid drinking them late in the afternoon, as they may keep you up later. Getting to bed earlier is the best thing to help you adjust.
- Try to avoid using pills. It may be hard to resist the urge to take a sleeping pill to help you go to bed earlier, or a stimulant to help you get up earlier, but adjusting the natural way is always best.
In the end, changing your body clock is going to be a bit painful, but using the tips above, you’ll get through it.