Most Americans change their clocks twice a year. In the spring, they “Spring Forward,” setting their clocks forward one hour at the start of Daylight Saving Time (DST), which results in mornings with less sunlight, but more sunlight in the evening. Then in the fall, they “Fall Back” and turn their clocks back an hour at the end of Daylight Saving Time, which means more sunlight in the morning, but less sunlight at night.
If you’ve ever wondered: Why do we even observe Daylight Saving Time in the first place? Or why do most, and not all, Americans observe Daylight Saving Time? We’ve got you covered with the answers, as well as helpful tips to help your body clock adjust to the fall time change that’s coming up very soon!
When We Change Our Clocks And Why We Change Them
Daylight Saving Time always begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. This year, Daylight Saving Time will be ending on Sunday, November 7, 2021 at 2:00 a.m. local time for most United States residents. The reason that Daylight Saving Time won’t be ending for all United States residents is because there are two states – Hawaii and Arizona (except for the Navajo Nation) – that do not observe Daylight Saving Time.
Why do we change our clocks? Well, the history of Daylight Saving Time indicates that Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s Founding Fathers, wrote “An Economical Project” in 1784, which advocated for laws that would compel citizens to rise at the crack of dawn to save the expense of candlelight. However, some historians say that George Vernon Hudson, a specialist in insect biology who left England for New Zealand in 1881, is the true mastermind of Daylight Saving Time since he presented the idea to the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1895.
An Englishman named William Willet has also been credited as the first true proponent of Daylight Saving Time. In the early 1900s, Willet wrote “The Waste Of Daylight,” which was a manifesto of his personal light-saving campaign. He also lobbied members of Parliament and the United States Congress to put clocks ahead 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April, and reverse the process on consecutive Sundays in September. His proposal was unsuccessful and mostly met with ridicule.
That said, what actually led to the adoption of Daylight Saving Time was World War I and the United States congress declaring that all clocks would be moved ahead one hour at 2:00 a.m. on March 31, 1918. However, in 1920, Daylight Saving Time was repealed in the United States due to opposition from dairy farmers. Then During World War II, Daylight Saving Time was imposed again in order to save fuel. The current Daylight Saving Time period in the United States was established with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which went into effect in 2007. As of March 2021, 32 states have proposed bills to end the practice of switching clocks.
Potential Negative Effects Experienced At The End Of Daylight Saving Time
When Daylight Saving Time ends, the shift to shorter days with fewer hours of sunlight can trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a condition that affects 1.6 billion people worldwide, or 1 in 7 people.
Daylight Saving Time can also lead to disrupted sleep cycles. And sleep disruptions can affect cognitive performance, leading some people to feel ‘fuzzy’ or ‘slow.’ Lack of proper sleep can exacerbate depressive feelings, anxiety, irritability, and mental exhaustion, as well.
8 Tips To Help Your Body Adjust To The Fall Time Change
Since the end of Daylight Saving Time forces your brain to adjust to the new patterns of light and dark, which can mess with your circadian rhythm and lead to insomnia or sleepy spells throughout the day, let’s take a look at 8 tips for coping with the time change.
Adjust Your Sleep Schedule Before The Fall Time Change Occurs: Since you know that Daylight Saving Time will be ending on Sunday, November 7, 2021 at 2:00 a.m., adjust your sleep schedule a week or two before the fall time change. By going to bed and waking up 10 to 15 minutes earlier each day, you’ll be easing your body into the new schedule instead of forcing a difficult, sudden change on yourself. And don’t forget that your family members, especially your children, may need some help in adjusting their schedules, as well.
Follow A Consistent Sleep Schedule: After the fall time change occurs, it’s important to follow a consistent sleep schedule. That’s because varying your bedtime or morning wake-up time can hinder your body’s ability to adjust to a stable circadian rhythm.
Expose Yourself To Sunlight As Soon As You Wake Up: Seeing sunlight (or any light) immediately after waking up can help you reset your body’s clock since natural light reinforces the strongest circadian cue. So, open up your shades as soon as you wake up and try to eat your breakfast in front of a sunny window.
Exercise In The Morning (Or Afternoon): Working out in the morning gets you up and moving to start your day. It also exposes you to light and raises your body temperature. Physical activity during the day can support your internal clock and help make it easier to fall asleep at night, as well. And if you find that you’re getting tired in the middle of the day, a 20- to 30-minute brisk walk can help you boost your energy levels naturally.
Avoid Caffeine After Noon: Stimulants like caffeine can keep you awake and throw off the natural balance between sleep and wakefulness. So, if you notice that you’re having trouble
sleeping at night, try to avoid caffeine after noon, especially a few days before and after the time change. (Yes, you can still have your regular morning cup of joe, if you’d like.)
Eat Your Meals According To The New Time On The Clock: Falling back an hour will likely mess with your eating habits. However, you should still try to eat your meals at the new time according to the clock. You can also try to incorporate these energizing foods into your diet. And make sure that you’re hydrating throughout the day, as well.
Avoid Napping (Or At Least Limit Your Naps): Since napping can decrease your ability to sleep at night, try not to nap a few days before and after the time change. However, if you’re extremely tired in the middle of the day and need a nap, it’s okay to take a short nap in the early afternoon. Just keep in mind that late and long naps can push back your bedtime and throw off your sleep schedule.
Limit Light Before Bed: Since insomnia is often associated with the end of Daylight Saving Time and artificial light exposure at night can interfere with your circadian rhythm, create a bedtime relaxation routine that includes dimming your lights and turning off your electronic devices in the lead-up to bedtime. Also, try to keep your electronics out of your bedroom and away from your sleeping surface.
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