Most of us look forward to springtime, but not to losing the hour of sleep when clocks spring forward.
March 14 kicks off daylight saving time and clocks will be turned ahead one hour. If students aren’t properly prepared, the time change can negatively affect productivity, concentration, and both physical and mental health.
The impact is even more significant for kids and teenagers because their bodies and minds are still growing, and because sleep directly impacts their academic performance, says Patrick Quinn, a parenting expert at Brainly.
“Now is the time when students need to start planning for the time change to ensure it doesn’t impact their sleep schedule or academic performance. During the spring, we lose an hour of sleep by setting our clocks ahead, and when you’re already behind on rest, this hour can seem like a lot to lose– but there are easy tips that can help kids and their families make the adjustment with ease,” says Quinn.
Here are his top five tips for students to adjust their bodies and sleep schedules to the time change this weekend.
- Start getting to bed earlier. You can ease your body into the time change by starting your nighttime routine 15 minutes earlier in the days leading up to the start of daylight saving time. This can be especially helpful for small children, who often feel the effects of the time change more than adults. Then, turn your clocks forward Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning. Live your day based on that schedule. Allowing two days, rather than a single day before the start of the week can ease the biological transition (your circadian rhythm) to the new time.
- Be mindful of what and when you eat and drink. Our sleep cycle and our eating patterns affect each other, so on the days around the time change, eat at the same time or even a little early. Also, try to eat more protein instead of carbohydrates. (This might seem like good everyday advice, but it’s even more important during time changes.) Avoid the pasta in lieu of fish, nuts, and other sources of protein for dinner this week.
- Be consistent. Wake up at the same time each morning to keep your sleep cycle more regular. This means even on weekends! Although sleeping in can help you feel more rested in the short-term, it causes difficulties falling asleep and waking up during the week. In fact, getting out of bed at the same time every morning is the single best way to improve sleep and wake functioning. A consistent sleep schedule based on a single pre-determined rise time will help you feel more rested throughout the entire year. Getting up at the same time is far more important than going to bed at the same time, though consistency on bedtime is certainly also important. On the first Sunday of daylight saving time, get up at your regular time whether you had a good night’s sleep or not. And avoid taking a nap if it’s not part of your typical routine.
- Practice healthy habits before bedtime. An hour before bedtime, put your phone, computer, or tablet away. Electronics’ high-intensity light hinders melatonin, a hormone that triggers sleepiness. The light stimulates your brain and makes sleep difficult the same way sunlight does. Also, turn off the television and pick up a book. Take a warm shower. Dim the lights. Relax.
- Enjoy the longer evenings. One great perk about spring and daylight saving time is that there is more sunlight in the evenings. Enjoy the natural lighting outside or indoors with your curtains open. Sunlight helps naturally reset your body clock. Letting natural light come into your bedroom in the morning also aids in greater alertness upon awakening.
“Research has proven getting enough sleep is not only vital to academic success, but it also improves students’ immune systems, boosts moods, enhances memory recall, and reduces stress,” says Quinn. “For this reason, the importance of preparing for Daylight Savings Time in advance cant’ be stressed enough.”
For more helpful tips for students and parents, visit www.brainly.com.