Five Ways to Prepare for Daylight Saving Time 

First, we “spring forward” and then we “fall back.” We ping-pong back and forth between these different time windows each year, resetting the clocks on our walls, in our vehicles and kitchen appliances. Do we know what it’s for? 

What is Daylight Saving Time? This piece of the puzzle is the easiest to answer. Daylight Saving Time, also known as DST, is a time-change window that lasts from spring to fall. During DST, most people in the United States reset their clocks in a move that shifts an hour of daylight from the morning and uses it to lengthen the amount of sunlight in our early evenings. On the second Sunday in March, DST begins by springing forward an hour. It ends on the first Sunday in November when time falls back by an hour.  

Why we use Daylight Saving Time

This answer is a little tricky. It involves train schedules, saving on energy costs, and having more time to play outside during summer evenings, according to an explanation from The New York Times. In the years before the Industrial Revolution, local “sun times” were used to set times. But that didn’t work so well when railroads began to carry freight, and people and schedules were needed. British railroad executives led the time-change charge by creating standard times in the 1840s.

In the U.S., four different time zones came into play about 40 years later. By 1918, we were at the threshold of DST, an idea often attributed to Benjamin Franklin’s theories about how energy – or candle – costs could be saved if there were more hours of light in the evening during the summer months instead of so early in the morning. By “springing ahead” with our clocks, we leave it a bit darker in the early morning hours and sunset time becomes later. In the U.S., Hawaii and Arizona don’t participate in DST.  

The DST flip-flop pattern has its critics, with many people wanting to keep to DST time year-round. A bill introduced in Congress recently spells this out. For some people, the reason they’re sick of the switching times has to do with the impact on health.  

Health impacts of Daylight Saving Time

According to Northwestern Medicine at Northwestern University, a slew of negative health issues have been linked to how the time change affects some people. These include: 

  • A 6% increase in fatal vehicle accidents 
  • An 8% spike in strokes 
  • A 24% rise in the risk of heart attacks 
  • An 11% increase in depressive mental health episodes 
  • More digestive and immune-related issues 

How to prepare your body for Daylight Saving Time

So, what can people do to prepare their bodies – and their brains – for the switch to DST? It turns out, there are a few proactive measures you can take to put some safeguards in place before you spring your clocks forward. Most of these have to do with protecting your circadian rhythm, or the natural sleep-wake cycle of your body. A couple weeks before DST starts, try incorporating these into your routine:  

  • Exercise in the morning. Activity in the morning, whether it’s a walk around your block or some yoga and planks, can raise your body temperature. This makes you feel more awake. 
  • Ditch the sleep disturbances. Now is the time to get rid of things that keep you up, like scrolling on your phone right before bed. Ditto for late-night alcoholic drinks or too much caffeine before shut-eye. 
  • Sleep routine. If you don’t have one, make one. Try to get the same amount of sleep each night. And on the eve of DST, go to bed an hour earlier. 
  • Morning light. Get outside in the mornings right before and during DST. This will get you used to soaking up more natural light, which helps with your circadian rhythm. 
  • Switch your clocks the night before DST starts. When you wake up the next day, all your clocks will be correct. 


Photo credit: Getty Images


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