Daylight-Saving Time is Ending.
Seize the Morning With These Tips.
Take advantage of the morning sunlight when the clocks fall back
Attention night owls who want to become earlier risers: This weekend might be your best chance to reset your sleep schedule for the coming year.
Most Americans will turn their clocks back one hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6, in the annual shift from daylight-saving time to standard time. The change gives us an extra hour of sleep that night and more sunlight earlier in the morning.
Earlier sunrises can help people get out of bed. People who naturally tend toward later bedtimes and later waketimes stand to benefit most from the shift back to standard time, according to Raman Malhotra, former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Earlier sleep schedules are associated with some health benefits. Morning larks are less likely to develop major depressive disorder, according to studies published in the Journal of Psychiatric /ˌsaɪkiˈætrɪk/ Research in 2018 and JAMA Psychiatry /saɪˈkaɪətri/ in 2021. Each hour that a person can move earlier the midpoint of their nightly sleep cycle is associated with a 23% lower risk of major depressive disorder, according to the JAMA psychiatry study. That study analyzed data from more than 800,000 individuals.
Sleep doctors and researchers caution that getting enough sleep is more important than waking up at daybreak. Night owls can use the time change to shift their schedules somewhat, but fighting your natural tendency too much can be a losing game.
“If your morning routine requires you to be sleep-deprived, you didn’t win anything,” says Laura Vanderkam, a time-management expert and author of “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.”
Yet many of us want to take advantage of the early daylight, whether we are running, working through some yoga poses, or just sipping /ˈsɪpɪŋ/ our coffee while the house is still quiet. Here’s how to get the most out of the time change, according to sleep experts, morning people and night owls.
In addition to morning sunlight, a blast of cold air can also help stimulate wakefulness /ˈweɪkflnəs/, research shows. Exposure to the cold activates the body’s sympathetic nervous system, which results in a burst of energy and alertness /əˈlɜːrtnəs/.
Kelly Murray, an adult sleep coach based in Chicago /ʃɪˈkɑːɡəʊ/, says about 25% of her clients express an interest in shifting their sleep schedules earlier. For clients who struggle to wake up in the morning, she recommends taking a cold shower.
Write to wake up
Anna Clemens, the founder of the online academic writing course Researchers’ Writing Academy in Prague, says she is not a morning person by nature. She wakes up “not quite switched on,” she says, but has discovered that 10 to 20 minutes of morning journaling is helpful.
She multitasks, responding to journal prompts such as, “What’s going to be difficult today and what can I do to solve this?” while enjoying her breakfast of porridge, pancakes or avocado toast. These problem-solving exercises, combined with the natural light streaming through her window, help dissipate her morning brain fog and focus.
“Once it’s on the page, your brain has almost sorted through it, even though you didn’t do much,” says Dr. Clemens.
Create ‘me time’
Arlene Flores, who works two jobs and cares for three children, relishes the mornings for the little time she gets to herself. On a typical weekend, she wakes up between 6 and 6:30 a.m., prepares a cup of cinnamon tea, and settles onto her couch with her laptop.
She often uses the time to listen to recorded class lectures and sift through PowerPoint presentations for a postgraduate family nurse practitioner program. After completing her coursework, Ms. Flores, 49 years old, still has time before her kids begin to stir, so she wanders out to the small patio of her New York City apartment to take in the daylight and tend to the tomato and basil plants she started growing during the pandemic.
“The phone isn’t ringing, nobody is up,” she says. “It’s just time for me to enjoy what I like to enjoy.”
Set a morning goal
Mornings can be a good time to work through an ambitious task because they typically offer more control than any other time of the day, says Ms. Vanderkam, the time-management expert.
“People might think they’re going to write the great American novel at night, but they’re probably going to watch Netflix instead,” she says. “In the morning, the time is less likely to be taken away from you.”
On school days, she tries to carve out a chunk of reading time after getting her middle-school-age kids on the bus to school and before her 2-year-old wakes up. On weekends, she often wakes up before the rest of the family to get her reading time in. This year, she is working her way through the works of Shakespeare using increments in the morning. As of November, she was immersed in “Henry VIII,” after finishing other classics including “Twelfth Night,” “Macbeth,” “Hamlet” and “Antony and Cleopatra.”
By the time she sits down to read her daily three to four pages, she says, the sun is up and she is able to take in the brightly colored leaves through her window in Philadelphia.
“If you can see the light while you have it, you’ll feel like you’ve seized the day,” she says.