March 13th kicks off the 104th year of official daylight saving time (DST). This means more daylight, but, unfortunately also means the clocks jump forward one hour. If students aren’t properly prepared, this time change can negatively affect their productivity, concentration, and both physical and mental health.
The impact is even more significant for kids and teenagers because their bodies and minds are still growing. A quality night’s sleep directly impacts their academic performance, especially during this important stage of brain development.
“Now is the time when students need to start planning for the time change to ensure it doesn’t impact their sleep schedule or academic performance. If you’re already behind on rest, this hour can seem like a lot to lose– but there are easy tips that can help kids and their families adjust with ease,” says Patrick Quinn, Brainly’s Parenting Expert Here are Patrick’s top five tips for students that will help them enhance their body, mind, and sleep schedules for the time change this Sunday.
- Start Working On Homework Assignments Earlier So You Can Get To Bed Earlier. You can ease your body into the time change by starting your nighttime routine 15 minutes earlier in the days leading up to the start of DST. This can be especially helpful for small children, who often feel the effects of the time change more than adults. It’s also helpful for school assignments to assure they’re not late because of the “lost hour.” Then, turn your clocks forward Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning. Live your day based on that schedule. Allowing two days, rather than a single day before the start of the week can ease the biological transition (your circadian rhythm) to the new time.
- Be Mindful Of What And When You Eat And Drink. 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 place of fish, nuts, and other sources of protein for dinner this week.
- Be Consistent. Wake up at the same time each morning to keep your sleep cycle more regular. This means even on weekends! Although sleeping in can help you feel more rested in the short term, it causes difficulties falling asleep and waking up during the week. In fact, getting out of bed at the same time every morning is the single best way to improve sleep and wake functioning. A consistent sleep schedule based on a single predetermined rise time will help you feel more rested throughout the entire year.
- 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.
- Enjoy The Longer Evenings. One great perk about spring and DST is that there is more sunlight in the evenings. Enjoy the natural lighting outside or indoors with your curtains open, and consider taking your homework assignments outside to complete them in the backyard for a change of scenery. Sunlight helps naturally reset your body clock. Letting natural light come into your bedroom in the morning also aids in greater alertness upon awakening.
“It’s absolutely crucial for students to plan ahead for the time change, so it doesn’t negatively impact their school routines or academic performance. 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 Saving Time in advance can’t be stressed enough.”