Turning the clocks back an hour so you don’t have to get up in pitch blackness all winter might sound like a small adjustment. It’s not. Science actually shows that the stress and fogginess caused by the change literally kills thousands each year. It’s just one hour but it can make a big difference to our mental and physical functioning.
For most of us, blessedly, that disruption won’t prove fatal. But it does often mess with your sleep and productivity for a few days. And let’s face it, a lot of us are already a little out of whack on those fronts thanks to the lingering effects of the pandemic already. So what can you do to minimize the disruption of the time change this weekend?
Google’s in-house sleep scientist has a few ideas. On the search giant’s blog recently Dr. Logan Schneider, previously a sleep scientist at Stanford Medicine and now a sleep expert at Google Health, helpfully offered a few simple tips.
1. Spread out the change.
This advice comes a little late this year, but you can keep it in mind for the next time the clocks change or rush to get started tonight. Schneider suggests that “rather than shifting your bedtime and wake time by an hour at once, you could try shifting them over four days, so that’s by 15 minutes a day. Start two days before the clocks change, and wrap up two days after.” This approach can be especially helpful for kids, he notes.
Alternatively, if you’re always wishing you could wake up earlier, why not leverage the time change to set your alarm back an hour and keep that new wake up time going forward?
2. Embrace the cold.
Can it be miserably jarring to get out of a cozy bed in a cold house on a winter morning? Absolutely, but Schneider insists that when it comes to waking your mind and body up for the day to come, goose bumps are your friend.
“The cold can serve as a cue to your body that it’s time to wake up. So, while you may not want to leave your cozy bed, walking around on a cool floor or washing your face with cold water can be just the invigorating experience your body needs to get going in the morning,” he says. (If you want to take this to extremes, you can follow Tony Robbins lead and start your day with a plunge in ice water.)
3. Swear off the snooze button.
Just like forcing yourself out of the comforter and into the cold, this tip is much easier said than done, but Schneider insists you’re not doing yourself any favors when you give in to the temptations of the snooze button.
“When using the snooze function, not only are you delaying the inevitable, you’re also not using the extra time well. Falling back to sleep after an alarm takes time. Between each ring of the alarm you’re not getting as much sleep as you think. Your brain can spend up to half of the time falling back to sleep!” he says.
Better to force yourself out of bed and get some real benefit out of that time. After all, you can always use those saved minutes to take a proper nap that will actually refresh you later in the day.