The annual rite of turning our clocks forward one hour is upon us, which can throw off sleep and decision-making. Here are some tips that can help you cope.
Daylight saving time starts this Sunday morning, March 13. And for many Americans, the change is a problem to lose some sleep over.
Springing ahead one hour can take the pep out of your step. People on average sleep 40 minutes less than their normal time on the night following the springtime change, the National Sleep Foundation says.
The consequences show on Mondays:
- Cyberloafing: On the Monday after shifting to daylight saving time, employees spend more time than normal surfing the Web for content unrelated to their work, according to a Penn State study. The surfing results in potentially massive productivity losses, the study concluded.
- Heart attacks: The number of acute myocardial infarctions jumps 24 percent on the Monday after the springtime change compared with other Mondays during the year, according to a study led by Dr. Amneet Sandhu, a cardiology fellow at the University of Colorado in Denver.
- Workplace injuries: An examination of mining injuries from 1983 to 2006 revealed that on the Monday after the time change, workers sustained more workplace injuries and their injuries were more severe compared with other days.
In addition, drowsy driving is common in the first few days after the time change, warns the Sleep Foundation. And when we’re tired, we don’t always make the best decisions or maintain self-control, researchers say.
We already are plenty sleep-deprived, with or without the help of daylight saving time. More than 4 in 10 U.S. adults report they get less than seven hours of sleep on a typical night, the minimum recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.
Tips to take care of yourself
So, how can you make the best of daylight saving time?
For starters, don’t make big spending or life choices if you are sleep-deprived, says Lauren Hale, associate professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.
“This advice should apply all year long, of course,” said Hale, who is also editor-in-chief of the Sleep Health journal.
Also, pay close attention to light exposure, because it will be brighter outside at bedtime now, Hale said.
“This means you should be sure to shut your shades in addition to shutting off your screens at bedtime,” she said, referring to use of smartphones, computers and TVs, whose light has been shown to disrupt our sleep.
Here are more tips from Hale, the National Sleep Foundation and Dr. Jeffrey P. Barasch, medical director of The Valley Hospital Center for Sleep Medicine in Ridgewood, New Jersey. They can help you fend off the effects of the time change and restore your well-being and ability to make wiser spending decisions:
- Catch up on sleep before the weekend.
- Go to bed at your usual time after the time change.
- Get up at your usual time regularly.
- Get sunlight soon after awakening; go outside for a walk.
- Avoid sunlight or bright light in the evening.
- Don’t nap within a few hours of your regular bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for several hours before bedtime.
Of course, not everyone has to worry about this.
Hawaii, Arizona (except the Navajo Nation), Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands do not participate in daylight saving time. The rest of us should set our clocks — the ones not programmed to change themselves — ahead one hour before going to bed Saturday night.
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