Many of us need to “fall back” for the Daylight Saving Time change on November 1, and now is the time for students to start planning for the transition.
The world’s largest online learning community Brainly conducted a survey of 1,700 U.S. high schoolers earlier this year and found that 65 percent of U.S. students reported feeling constantly tired or low energy.
Patrick Quinn, a parenting expert at Brainly, says: “The time switch may be an automatic switch for our iPhone, however, our body is not programmed like a man-made clock. That’s why it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure our internal clocks adjust adequately. This is even more important for kids and teenagers because their bodies and minds are growing, and because their sleep directly impacts their academic performance.”
Here are his top four tips for students to adjust their bodies and sleep schedules to the time change this weekend.
- Check your local sunrise and sunset times, and adjust your school day routine as needed. Before the stark time change goes into effect and clocks “fall” back an hour, students should plan ahead and familiarize themselves with how their days will look for the rest of the year. For example, if a student normally does their homework and then goes outside to practice basketball, they may want to consider saving homework for after basketball so it’s not dark when they’re playing. In the same vein, if there are certain activities or chores that need to be done during daylight hours, make a plan for how your routine will change to accommodate them after the time change.
- Keep your dinnertime consistent. Our sleep cycle and our eating patterns affect each other, so on the days around the time change, eat at the same time or even a little early. Also, try to eat more protein instead of carbohydrates. (This might seem like good everyday advice, but it’s even more important during time changes.) Avoid the pasta in lieu of fish, nuts, and other sources of protein for dinner this week.
- Get more light! Go outside and get exposure to morning sunlight on the Sunday after the time change to help regulate your internal clock. Having shorter daylight hours affects our mood and energy levels, decreasing serotonin, which in turn has a negative effect on concentration and academic performance. Making time to take a morning or early afternoon walk outside when the sun is out can make all the difference in the world. If the shorter days are impacting students’ moods and energy levels, they could also try using a light therapy box or an alarm light that brightens as they wake up.
- Practice healthy habits before bedtime. An hour before bedtime, put your phone, computer, or tablet away. Electronics’ high-intensity light hinders melatonin, a hormone that triggers sleepiness. The light stimulates your brain and makes sleep difficult the same way sunlight does. Also, turn off the television and pick up a book. Take a warm shower. Dim the lights. Relax.
“Research has proven getting enough sleep is not only vital to academic success, but it also improves students’ immune systems, boosts moods, enhances memory recall, and reduces stress,” says Quinn. “For this reason, the importance of preparing for Daylight Savings Time in advance cant’ be stressed enough.”