Daylight Saving Time Is Here — & It’s More Than Just An Extra Hour Of Sleep

Photographed by Michael Beckert.
Good news: you’re getting a sweet, sweet extra hour of sleep when daylight saving time kicks in this weekend.
But daylight saving time (DST) does have a few catches. While it’s an opportune moment to catch a few extra zzzs (or, you know, extend your late Saturday night out into an even later one), that hour can also have an unexpected ripple effect over the next several months of your life. 
Every year, DST impacts everything from your daily routine to your body’s own internal clock, making it especially important to be thoughtful about ringing in the winter months and updating your personal schedule.

When is daylight saving time this fall?

DST this year ends at 2:00 a.m. ET on November 3, 2019. That means you’ll be setting your clocks back one hour. Make sure all your manual clocks are changed — check your alarms, your kitchen appliances, and your car — and keep an eye on cell phones. Many phones automatically set dates and times, but it never hurts to double-check.

Why do we change our clocks back?

Many countries don’t actually adhere to DST, but the United States made the practice federal law when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act in 1966. The thinking behind DST is to adjust the time so that the sun is still out when most people are typically awake. Mornings are darker for longer so that evenings have more daylight, the National Geographic reports, which Congress interpreted as having both a health and an economic benefit: more sunshine meant more time outdoors, and more time working and shopping. (Of course, this isn’t exactly helpful for people such as farmers and others who wake up before dawn.)
The only two states that do not observe DST are Hawaii and Arizona, except for within the Navajo Nation’s tribal lands. The Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico, along with the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and U.S. Virgin Islands, also do not follow it.

How can you prepare for daylight saving time?

Besides adjusting your clocks and calendars, you should also make sure to take care of yourself when DST rolls around. 
That one-hour difference could mess with your sleep schedule, which could have serious long-term effects. Roughly one in three U.S. adults already don’t get the recommended seven-plus hours of sleep per night, and that kind of chronic sleep deprivation makes it tougher to concentrate and impairs decision-making ability — the Associated Press reports that studies link DST to brief spikes in car accidents, likely due to drowsiness behind the wheel. 
Poor sleep hygiene could also increase your risk of depression and anxiety. Many people are already susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, as the weather gets colder, and changes to sleep habits could compound those effects. Be sure to plan ahead for any changes — from cooking to workouts to nights out on the town, update your schedule accordingly, giving your internal clock plenty of time to adjust. Drinking plenty of water, cutting back on caffeine, and catching some rays of sunshine are also highly recommended — carpe diem, after all, and take advantage of that extra daylight.

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