This Sunday marks the start of Daylight Savings Time. And if you're anything like us, you're excited — there's an extra hour of daylight in the evening so the winter doesn't feel so dark.
Getting up an hour earlier, though? Not the best.
That's because your body is already hard-wired to respond to a 24-hour cycle of day and night. That internal clock, which scientists called your circadian rhythm, helps you feel sleepy at (roughly) the same time at night, and urges you to wake up at (roughly) the same time each morning.
It's the reason you might have trouble sleeping in on weekends — and why jet lag can hit you so hard when you travel around the world. It's also why the first day of Daylight Savings can feel especially hard.
Don't sweat it though. While you can't turn off your body's internal clock — and, trust us, you wouldn't want to — you can help it adjust slowly. Here's what to do for a painless Monday morning.
1. Ease Into Your New Wake Up Time
Are you the type to sleep in on the weekends — at least, as much as your body will let you? A quick change of plans can make Daylight Savings much easier to adjust to.
Why? Because you have a few days before Daylight Savings kicks in, and you can adjust your sleep schedule naturally so an early rise on Monday feels more natural.
Here's what to do. If you typically wake up at 7 A.M. on weekdays, set your alarm for 6:45 A.M. on Friday and 6:30 A.M. on Saturday. Set your alarm for 7:15 A.M. on Sunday — remember, the time will have changed, so this will "feel like" 6:15 — then, finally, 7 A.M. on Monday.
Because you're shifting your wake time by just 15 minutes each time, no one morning will feel especially draining.
2. Go to Sleep Earlier, Too
Sounds obvious, right? If you want to wake up earlier, you need to sleep earlier, too. But it's all too tempting to just set your alarm earlier and deal with being a little more tired during the day.
While that's definitely an option, it's not ideal. Sleep deprivation can be seriously bad news for your physical and mental health. As Stanford Medicine explains, getting too little sleep can make it harder to concentrate in class. Sleep-deprived teens also show higher rates of anxiety and depression, and they're more prone to car accidents caused by fatigue.
In a word: yikes.
Adjust your bedtime over the weekend as you adjust your wake time to stay well-rested. And if you want to go out on the weekends — we don't blame you! — make plans on Friday night, so your body has the most time to recover by Monday.
3. Get Going in the Morning
If you're not a morning person, the first day of Daylight Savings might still sting a little. Resist the urge to hit snooze on your alarm, though, and instead get going ASAP to make the transition a little easier.
Start your day with a few minutes of yoga, or hop out of bed for a 5-minute mini-workout of bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups or planks. Get dressed and head downstairs for an energizing breakfast, like toast with peanut butter or scrambled eggs with veggies. Research shows that a good breakfast primes your brain to learn more in school.
About the Author
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Before launching her writing business, she worked as a TA and tutored students in biology, chemistry, math and physics.