With 2019 underway, your thoughts are likely already turning to the start of spring and the return of warmer weather. Before you can bask in the sunshine, there’s one bridge you’ll need to cross: daylight saving time. On March 10, the clocks will move forward by one hour, starting off a season of longer days perfect for everything from baseball to gardening. It will also usher in a new round of less-than-pleasant effects, including the grogginess that comes with losing an hour of sleep. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make sure you are better prepared for when the clocks roll forward this year.
Start a new schedule a week out
Dr. Michael Breus, author of “The Power of When,” tells NBC News that starting daylight saving time preparation a week ahead of the time change has helped him better adjust. This process is relatively simple and fairly easy to undertake: You need only go to bed and wake up 15 minutes earlier on the Sunday prior to the time change, adding 15 additional minutes in the three days that follow. Breus also recommends this approach as a general technique for frequent business travelers who experience jet lag.
Put your phone away
A more and more common pre-bedtime ritual is to surf the web, catch up on news and social media happenings or shop on your smartphone. Blue light’s disruptive effect on our Circadian sleep cycle has led phone makers to introduce an orange light function that kicks in when the sun goes down, but that may not be enough to counteract the restlessness resulting from daylight saving time. Dr. Shilpi Agarwal tells NBC News BETTER that cutting your screen-viewing habits back before you go to bed can help offset the effects of daylight saving time. Instead, you could spend that time talking with a loved one, reading a book or, as certified sleep science coach Chris Brantner recommends, trying out something relaxing like yoga or meditation.
Consider your diet
If you commonly find yourself hitting a wall in the early or mid-afternoon during the work week, you may start leaning on an extra cup of coffee or an energy drink. As you attempt to prepare your body for daylight saving time, Agarwal recommends not ingesting any caffeine after noon in the week leading up to the time change.
To make sure you have the proper boost at work or on your weekend, Agarwal recommends swapping out a carbohydrate-heavy breakfast for something dense with protein — think eggs, meats and nuts or even whey protein shakes and drinks. This will enable you to subsist for the rest of the day only on light meals and snacks, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
If you think that a glass or two of wine with dinner will help because it tends to put you right out, you are only getting half of the story. Agarwal notes that alcohol processes as a stimulant about halfway through the evening when you have it with dinner, which can cause restless sleep. If possible, you’ll want to avoid alcohol with dinner ahead of the time change altogether, and you should also take care to avoid stimulants like nicotine.
The time change will no doubt have an impact on your body, but by using the right approaches and practices in advance, you can ensure that its impact is mitigated considerably.