Photo: Hugo Bernard via Flickr
On the first Sunday of November, our clocks will move back an hour at 2 a.m., and we will gain an hour of sleep as we “fall back” as Daylight Saving Time officially ends.
But that extra hour of rest will come at a cost to our routines.
Soon, you will be ending your work day in darkness as the switch pushes sunset forward an hour, too. For those of us who live in cooler climates, the end of Daylight Saving Time heralds the time of sweater weather, chilly winds, and the days when the lines of Louise Glück’s moody “October” poem make the most sense: “This is the light of autumn; it has turned on us. / Surely it is a privilege to approach the end still believing in something.”
How can we prepare for this annual arbitrary switch in time so we can fall back gracefully instead of tumbling backwards unaware?
Here are some tips so you can start to prepare:
1) Don’t drink alcohol or coffee on Saturday
Stimulants like alcohol and caffeine interfere with our body’s internal clock, which is already going to be thrown for a loop when your body feels like it’s afternoon when it’s morning. As a stimulant, alcohol will increase the number of times you wake up at night and research finds that it will decrease the quality of sleep you’ll get.
Treat the time switch like a mild form of jet lag and avoid going for an alcoholic nightcap.
2) Remember to change your clocks
Nowadays, most of our digital clocks on our electronic devices will do the time switch for us. But for those of us who use clocks with hands spinning around a dial, remember to move your clock backwards Saturday night, so you don’t miss meetings and phone calls from people living in a world that’s an hour behind you.
3) Go outside
Open up your blinds Sunday morning and welcome the brighter rays of light. The end of Daylight Saving Time pushes sunrise back an hour as winter’s morning light will reach you sooner now. The sun is nature’s regulator and keeps our internal circadian rhythms on track.
Besides working as our natural timekeeper, the sun is also a good pick-me-up as the days shorten. One study found morning light exposure to be the most effective treatment for cheering us up in the face of winter blues and seasonal affective disorder.
4) Resist sleeping in
You may be tempted to enjoy the chance to snooze on Sunday, but if you want to adjust to time’s new schedule, you’ll need to adjust your personal schedule accordingly. Dr. Alon Y. Avidan, Director of UCLA’s Sleep Disorders Center recommends going to bed and hour later than you normally would on Saturday night, so that you can wake up feeling like it’s morning the next day.
Trust fall, don’t free fall, back
With these tips, you can approach Sunday’s time shift like a trust fall instead of a free-fall: knowing that you’ve prepared your body for something to catch you.