Beating the Clock

The switch to Daylight Saving Time begins in three weeks. Remember last year? If you want to avoid the sudden lurch in your circadian rhythm, you need to start preparing now.

Every March the majority of Canadians make the switch to Daylight Saving Time (DST.) Although “springing forward” sounds energetic, the days that follow are anything but. The jarring loss of one hour reverberates for a week or so. The Monday following the switch to DST is notorious for increased auto accidents (and probably soaring coffee sales.)

This year, you can make the switch without the grogginess. It takes only a little planning?you’ve still got plenty of time.

Ready? Here’s the plan: beginning February 22, before you go to bed, move the time forward on your bedside clock (or whatever clock wakes you up) by three minutes. When your alarm goes off the next morning, you’ll wake up three minutes earlier than standard time. (Be sure to move the clock time forward, not the alarm time. If you’re using a smart phone for your morning alarm clock, however, the phone may not permit a manual time change; in that case, you can achieve a similar effect by adjusting your alarm time back three minutes.)

How easy is that? Three minutes is nothing, and you won’t notice any lack of sleep. By the time you remember that your clock is set a few minutes ahead, you’ll be too awake to go back to bed. Next evening, before bedtime, move the time forward another three minutes. Repeat this every evening for the twenty days until Daylight Saving Time kicks in.

By the time March 13 rolls around, you will be fully and painlessly adjusted to DST. While the rest of the country staggers around in a fog after a full-hour time shift, you’ll be fresh and feeling just a little smug.

I started beating the clock about ten years ago (and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner.) Most years I began a full thirty days before DST and moved the clock time ahead two minutes each day. On years when I was late starting the time switch, I accelerated it to three minutes a day for twenty days or five minutes for twelve days. I even once binge-adjusted over four days. Because the adjustments are incremental, I find them much easier to adjust to than the full hour in one go.

During the period I was getting up a bit earlier each day, I enjoyed having the extra time cushion. The first few days of my incremental time change, I noticed feeling less rushed to get out the door for work. At the days went on and my morning time expanded, I found I had extra time to tackle a few chores, read, or just enjoy the quiet of predawn. Since I was the only one in the house participating in accelerated DST, mornings became sacred “me time.”

Enjoying the increasing free time in the morning leads to the only downside: When everyone else catches up on March 13 and all the clocks get moved forward one hour, you’ll “lose” that cushion of time you were building in the morning. You may be tempted, as I was, to keep moving the clock forward past DST to build up some extra time again!

This year, don’t be a DST zombie. Put a note beside your bedside clock to remind you to start the time change early. Just a few minutes at a time and you’ll beat the clock and ease your way into Daylight Saving Time.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.

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