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Problems Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time

Transition Your Sleep Cycle to Wake Up Naturally

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There are a lot of problems with "springing forward" for daylight saving time. The biggest personal problem is trying to wake up an hour earlier, especially for non-morning people. This can adversely affect your productivity and morale. Not to mention it can make you extremely grumpy.

The problem comes with an abrupt change to your Circadian rhythm and that messes up your sleep cycle. The affects of sleep depravation are dramatic. And changing your sleep cycle like this causes you to lose sleep until you adjust. And that can take weeks.

One of the things that prolongs the adjustment to daylight savings time is the lack of sun. The body is made to wake at dawn. The common work schedule accommodates this. The first few weeks of springing forward does not. It is still dark in most of the United States at the beginning of spring.

But you can use the body's natural waking mechanism to transition in to spring easily. With the use of a full-spectrum fluorescent light you can trick your body into thinking the sun is up and wake up without breaking your circadian rhythm (that's what makes you feel groggy). Here is what you do:

The Setup

  • Fluorescent light fixture with a diffuser (white plastic cover) and a power chord
  • Timer that turns whatever is plugged into it on and off
  • Full-spectrum or sun-spectrum fluorescent light bulbs
The Trick
  • Plug the light fixture (with the full-spectrum bulbs) into the timer and place it in your bedroom where the reflected light will hit your body. Bounce the light off the wall, floor or ceiling and block it from directly shining on you.
  • Two weeks before you spring forward set the timer for 15 minutes before your alarm goes off (assuming you wake around dawn).
  • Push the timer back an additional 5 minutes each day until you reach 1 hour, 15 minutes.
  • Keep the light coming on at that time until the sun starts coming up instead.
By the time daylight saving time springs forward your body should be used to waking up at that time, and the light will reinforce your new alarm setting until the sun can take over. It may not make facing the alarm any easier, but it will be the gentlest transition possible.
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