Daylight Saving Time (DST) is officially back this Sunday, March 10. For those who still use old-fashioned alarm clocks, this means it's time to set 'em forward. (And for those who use smartphones to wake up every day, your device's time should change automatically at 2 a.m. on Sunday.) The bad news: We lose an hour of sleep. Sigh. But the good news is we get to see the sun when we leave work now!
Needless to say, waking up on Sunday morning might be a little rough. Despite being a minor one-hour shift, DST can interfere with our biological clocks and contribute to seasonal affective disorder. But there are small tweaks you can make to your routine to soften the blow. The first: Go to bed a bit earlier on Saturday night, so you can still get the same amount of sleep you're used to. Also, try waking up when you normally would on Sunday morning, so that you can acclimate to the time difference as seamlessly as possible. There are apps and devices that can help with the transition as well. Sleepzy is an app that wakes you up within a 30-minute window when you're in the lightest phase of sleep, which helps your rise-and-shine feel more natural. Similarly, if you have a Google Pixel 3 and Pixel Stand, you can use the sunrise alarm feature, which slowly brightens in the 15 minutes leading up to your alarm by changing from deep red to orange to soft yellow, helping you ease into the day.
Of course, if you're in one of the two states that don't observe Daylight Saving, then you won't have to deal with any of this. Hawaii is one state that opts out, because its close proximity to the equator means its daylight hours don't vary much throughout the year. Same goes for Arizona (with the exception of its Navajo Reservation). This is largely because the state has one of the hottest climates in the U.S., and opting out of DST allows its residents to experience cooler evenings than they would if they switched the clocks forward an hour. Beyond the states proper, the commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Marina Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa also do not participate in DST. As far as the rest of the world, not all countries follow DST, but here's a list of the ones that do.
But this "spring forward, fall back" business might not be a thing forever — just yesterday, Florida lawmakers introduced legislation that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent year-round across the country, citing reasons like reduced energy usage and seasonal depression. But for now, it's still a thing we have to deal with, so just be prepared: Make sure to change the time on your microwave and oven in time for Sunday. And to double-check that your smart devices are indeed set to switch over automatically, check in the date and time section of your settings that the automatic preference is selected.
For more on how to deal with the early wake-up call and maximize productivity, we tapped the expertise of Microsoft productivity researcher Ronette Lawrence. Ahead, her tips for acclimating to Daylight Saving Time.
1. Turn your apps and devices to do not disturb the night before.
"A recent study of 1,400 information workers commissioned by Microsoft found that merely thinking about work during personal time was the biggest work-life balance disruptor, beating out other factors such as phone notifications, manager and client expectations, and pressure from coworkers who work outside of work hours. I know many people relate trouble sleeping to worrying about work. So to disconnect, you can turn your Outlook and chat apps like Microsoft Teams to Do Not Disturb or Quiet Hours so a single email or chat doesn’t bring your mind back to the stresses of work."
2. Design your day based on your energy levels.
"Our Microsoft Research team has spent a lot of time understanding the notion of focus and distraction at work. They’ve seen that our circadian rhythms have a big impact on our patterns of focus and rest. Our research shows we aren’t built to be in a constant state of 'on.' Workers have natural fluctuations of energy and attention in their day, from focused work to rote work to boredom, and we experience two peak focus times — mid-morning and mid-afternoon. When you’re working with one less hour of sleep, use that information to your advantage! We have a tool in Outlook called MyAnalytics which, like a fitness tracker for work, proactively suggests you block your calendar with two-hour blocks of focus time throughout your day to get work done. (Research shows it takes about 90 minutes to get in flow, so we recommend blocking two hours so you have a buffer.) If you don’t have this tool, you can easily block that time on your calendar manually."