It’s almost that time of year again, when some of us wake up utterly confused as to why our phone clocks are an hour behind the ones on our stoves and microwaves.
But fear not – you may have just forgotten that daylight saving time ends this weekend. At 2 a.m. on Sunday, clocks throughout the country will turn back one hour to align with Standard Time, ushering in shorter days and longer, darker evenings.
While some welcome the extra hour of sleep, others might find that the annual adjustment can cause their internal clocks to lag. Dr. Sue Ming, a professor of neurology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, suggested several ways to adapt to the time switch.
Ming said some people benefit in different ways by turning their clocks back an hour. Some may see improvements in their heart health, productivity at work, and even their mood. Ming noted she saw major benefits among younger populations.
“Young adults, their tendency is to go to bed late and get up late,” she said. “Now going to bed late in the spring time helps them, but getting up … is more difficult.”
She added that young people may find it easier to fall asleep after the clocks reset because the new time is better aligned with their circadian rhythm, or “biological clock.”
But while the young may benefit from the reset, Ming said older people may find it difficult to adjust because their circadian rhythms may be more sensitive to the change.
“The population who will have difficulty to adjust is elderly people, who tend to go to bed early and rise earlier,” Ming said.
Whatever your age, there are ways to make the transition easier if you find yourself having difficulty with the time change.
First, Ming advises trying some light exercise to get yourself tired out. She says aerobic exercises at least a couple of hours before bed will increase your sleep quality.
Ming also suggests that those with big lights in their homes turn them on at their highest intensity, as this can trick the mind into thinking it’s still early. If that doesn’t help, then taking a warmer than usual bath or shower may be the next best thing.
“I'm not saying take a scorching hot shower, but a little warmer so that will keep yourself more awake,” she said.
For some New Yorkers, however, inadequate sleep isn’t the main cause of their frustration with daylight saving time; instead, it’s the disruption in their everyday routine. Though he was excited about getting an extra hour of sleep after a flight into New York City from California, software engineer Gabriel Sinkin said he was mostly over the daylight saving time concept.
“I mean, let's just stick to the same time,'' he said on Saturday evening. “I hate dealing with time zones and changes of time. And it’s just really complicated.”
“Also the sunrise and sunset time really kind of messes with my schedule as a runner, too,” he continued. “It becomes difficult to run in the dark.”
Justin Foreman said his biggest gripe with the change in time is that he might now have to leave his office when it’s dark out.
“And once the day starts getting longer, I'm constantly counting down until we can change the clocks again,” Foreman said. “I was actually disappointed because it seemed like maybe Congress was gonna get rid of daylight saving.”
In March, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation that would make daylight saving time permanent and end the twice-yearly clock changing ritual. The bill, which is currently stalled in the House of Representatives, would not go into effect until November 2023 if passed.