How to Prepare for Daylight Saving Time

The extra hour of darkness in the afternoon can be especially harsh for people who “are prone to depression in the fall and winter — which a great many people are,” said Norman E. Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, who coined the term “seasonal affective disorder”. “They can be low on energy, lethargic, prone to overeating, and just out of shape for a while.”

Here’s how to prepare for the change and the darker season.

Many people — unless they’re working the night shift or raising a young child — get an extra hour of sleep in the morning after the DST. And that “will allow them to function better,” said Elizabeth B. Klerman, a professor of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. More than a third of Americans suffer from sleep deprivation, which can adversely affect mood, memory and health.

If you can’t sleep the extra hour — or just want a smoother transition — try shifting your bedtime by 30 minutes a few days in advance so that the time on the clock on Sunday is closer to the time your body does she feels is, said Jennifer Martin, a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and president of the board of directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. But that also means that you should sleep 30 minutes later in the morning, which is not feasible for everyone. (For what it’s worth, you can try this with your kids too.)

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Extra time in bed sounds glorious to some, but it can be difficult when you’re struggling with insomnia, said Dr. Martin, because “the night just got longer, basically, by an hour.” In this case, focus on keeping the time you spend in bed the same instead of changing the time you fall asleep. So if you normally spend eight hours in bed — say between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. — go to bed an hour later on Saturday night, which may decrease your chances of lying awake at night.

It can be demoralizing when you realize that the pleasant afternoon stroll you were used to is now a sombre trudge through the dark. Shifting your walk, run, or bike ride to the morning gives you a dose of direct morning light, which is important for regulating sleep and waking habits. Your cortisol rises, giving you energy, and your brain stops producing the sleep hormone melatonin.

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