Surviving the Time Change: Tips for Resetting Your Family’s Routine

Spring AheadIt’s a ritual many of us love to hate: Every March, we set our clocks forward an hour when daylight saving time (DST) starts. The body’s internal clock doesn’t reset as easily as an alarm clock, however. It can take several days to get in sync with the new time.

Until then, your sleep may be shorter or poor, which can leave you tired and dragging during the day. You may be less alert and more likely to get hurt at work and on the road. And your children may find it harder to learn in school.

Luckily, you can help the time change adjustment process along so that it causes less disruption for your whole family.

Spring Forward Gracefully
If you aren’t prepared, the annual “spring forward” can land with a thud. You lose an hour—and it’s often subtracted from sleep. Plus, the suddenly later sunrise may throw off your body’s daily rhythms and even impact your health. For example, research shows the risk of having a heart attack rises slightly in the week after DST starts.

Here’s how to help minimize negative effects:

  • On the Wednesday before the time change, go to bed 15 to 20 minutes earlier than your usual bedtime. On Thursday and Friday, go to bed 15 to 20 minutes earlier than the nights before.
  • On Saturday, go ahead and set your clocks forward early that evening. Then hit the sack when the clock says it’s your usual bedtime.
  • On Sunday, get plenty of sunlight soon after waking up. The light helps activate brain regions involved in alertness. If it’s dark when you’re getting out of bed, ask your health care provider whether a light box might be helpful.

The time shift is an adjustment for everyone in your family. But a little planning can help it go like clockwork.

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