Daylight Savings Time 2012 means longer days, more sunlight and a lot of people feeling tired and groggy on Monday.
While some in the U.S. are pushing for Daylight Savings Time to be gotten rid of altogether, others are bracing themselves for the inevitable sleep deprivation to come on Monday morning.
For those dreading the spring forward routine that will last until Nov. 4, here are seven ways to cope with the time change. From what food and drinks to avoid to how to get your body's circadian rhythm back on track, check out what you need to do to help yourself adjust to Daylight Savings Time 2012 below.
1. Prep yourself over the weekend.
The usual rule of thumb for daylight savings time is that it takes someone about one day to adjust for every hour of time change.
If you're getting between seven to eight hours of sleep each night, Daylight Savings Time probably won't affect you much. If you're like most of us, however, you may be in a bit of trouble.
To combat the effects of sleep deprivation for the first few days of Daylight Savings Time, give yourself some time to adjust before the weekend ends. Reset one of your clocks on Friday night or Saturday morning, and try to wake up, eat three meals and go sleep following the new schedule.
Just make sure you don't rely on the wrong time if you have plans over the weekend.
2. Get more exercise.
Working out releases serotonin, a chemical in your brain that boosts your energy, makes you happier and helps you adjust to new schedules, all things that will become crucial in the first few weeks of Daylight Savings Time.
Exercising regularly, outdoors and in the morning is usually the best way to help your body get used to the changes. Avoid exercising too late in the day, however -- it may make it harder for you to calm down enough to sleep, and being out when the day is brighter can also affect your sleep rhythm.
3. Make the division between night and day clear.
One of the hardest things for your body to adjust to in coming days will be the fact that since the daylight is lasting longer, your body's circadian rhythm will be thrown off-balance.
The best way to help your body cope with Daylight Savings Time is to have the right balance of light and dark in your day. In the morning, open up the shades and set your lights as bright as they can go. Try to get outside during the day, even if its just at lunch, to get some of that natural sunlight, too.
In evening, dim the lights or only have some of them on when it gets dark. Try to stay inside, and close the shades so street lights don't get in. This way, your body knows that its time to start getting ready to sleep.
4. Don't take long naps.
Napping will only encourage your body to stay in the same rhythm, so try to avoid it is possible. If you start to feel tried, take a short walk or stand up and stretch, instead.
If you usually take naps, and can't resist sneaking one in, try to limit your napping to the morning, and don't let yourself sleep for more than 15 minutes.
5. Avoid alcohol and big meals before bed.
Alcohol is notorious for disturbing normal sleep cycles. No matter how easy it seems to take a nightcap before going to bed, try to avoid drinking at night to allow your body to adjust on its own.
It's also not a bad idea to give your body time to digest before going to bed. Many believe that eating within the three hour window before you go to sleep, especially if it's a heavy meal, can impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
If you're a late-night eater, at least and try and cut certain foods that have been proven to interefere with a good night's rest. Eliminate fried and fatty foods, refined carbohydrates (white rice, bread and pasta), sugary foods and overly spicy foods. whenever you can. And if you're a caffeine drinker, try to avoid coffee, soda and other caffeinated beverages after 5:00 p.m.
6. Don't take sleep medication.
Sleep medication shouldn't have to be taken just for a one-hour time change, and some of them have been shown to become addictive or negatively impact the quality of the sleep you get through them.
Instead of relying on meds, focus on going to bed and getting up around the same time every day. This will help to cue your body for when it's time to settle down, and help you cope with lost sleep.
7. Be on the alert for sleepy drivers.
Studies have shown that the period encompassing Daylight Savings Time often produces fewer traffic fatalities and overall accidents than during standard time. This is likely due to the fact that such accidents are more likely to occur during the winter months.
In the weeks heading into the spring time change, however, more traffic accidents are reported. One study showed an especially significant increase in accidents and fatalities on the Monday immediately after the switch.
If you drive to work, be sure to take your time and be sure to wake out for sleepy drivers--or those panicked that they forgot to reset their clocks.