How I beat daylight savings time.

Daylight savings time used to kick my ass, but this year I’m winning!

I’ve always dreaded daylight savings time because It meant I’d be tired for a month.  It didn’t really matter whether it was spring forward, or fall back, it always made me tired.

This year I think I’ve handled it the best ever through a combination of techniques.  I’m going to focus on the key one that’s new, but I will mention some of the ones that are old news to all of us.

My new trick is to choose one wall clock, and only set it back for “fall back” by 15 minutes a week for four weeks.  This clock tells me my “body clock”.  I set the rest of my clocks like the rest of the world, and they keep me on time with “every one else”.

It used to be that I was always frustrated with my body for not being able to adjust my internal clock in one week.  Now I know it takes me four weeks to adjust, and I know how to tell why I’m feeling the way I feel with respect to energy.  For example, I feel a little tired right now.  I look at my “body clock”, and I can see that to my body it is 1:30 pm, and I always feel a little tired right now.  Based on my schedule, and my “every one else” clock I know that it’s really not even 1 pm yet, so I should have a cup of coffee and get on with the day.  I’ve got five more hours of work. I’ll easily burn through the caffeine before I go to bed because it takes me six hours for a cup of coffee and it will be out of my system by 7pm.  Excellent.  Plenty of time before bed time.

Excuse me while I go make myself a nice cup of coffee.  (Thomas Hammer Blue Eye Blend)

The problem always used to be that I never knew what my “body clock” really was with any certainty.  Last year I tried to do the math for this in my head, and failed miserably.  I was always frustrated when I had to remember a ton of details to do the calculation.  This year I’m mostly ignoring it, and factoring it in once or twice a day to confirm how I’m feeling.  The difference is amazing.  This year: “yep, that’s why I feel so tired.”  Last year: “oh man, why do I feel so tired?”

Better yet, I’m starting to know in advance when I will be more tired than usual.  It’s no mystery once I say it out loud, but adjusting moment by moment can be really exhausting. Especially when I’m already sleep deprived.  I will be way more tired than usual this week at 1:15 in the afternoon, and at 9:15 PM.  This makes sense, because it’s 45 minutes off from my normal “tired” parts of the day which are 2 pm and 10 pm.

But what can I do about it?  In years past I’d try to go to bed an hour early.  That never works for any of us, because we all have to set our schedules relative to everyone else’s. No wonder we’re all so frustrated about time.

Here’s what I’m doing this year.  This week I’m trying to go to bed about thirty minutes earlier than usual when I can, and ignoring the clock other than that.  So far, I’ve crashed early at every opportunity. Then, when I wake up about 45 minutes early, I just get up and try to do a little for tomorrow with the extra “found time”. I know that I will lose that time later in the evening.  Then, the key is when I’m completely exhausted, and it seems really early, I’ve got to look at my “body clock”, remember that I really am tired, and stop for the night  30 minutes early.

Your mileage may vary.

The devil’s advocate says so what, just set your clock and forget about it.  More or less, I do. The difference is when I’m really tired, this year I know why and I know what to do to make it better for tomorrow. That’s awesome.

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