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How to Prepare for the Time Change

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Photo: Zsolt Biczo (Shutterstock)

Sadly, we did not manage to abolish time changes in time to avoid the one that’s coming up this weekend, so most of us in the U.S. will be going ahead with our usual ritual: Wake up early, forgetting that the time changed during the night, then get confused that the clock on our phone doesn’t match the one on the microwave, and so on. Here’s how to be a little more prepared.

Know exactly when daylight saving time ends

Daylight saving time is what we call the time in summer, and yes, it’s daylight “saving” time, singular. This time actually gets its own time zone abbreviation: EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) instead of EST (Eastern Standard Time) on the east coast, with corresponding CDT, MDT, and PDT across the country. So we are moving from daylight time to standard time.

Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. That’s when the clocks “fall back.” If you’re changing them manually, 2 a.m. becomes 1 a.m. This means that if you’re used to waking up at 7 a.m., you’ll open your eyes at your usual time to find that it is now 6 a.m.

Decide how to spend your “extra” hour

The fall time change is a great moment for me, a night owl. When I was younger I would be thrilled to stay up an extra hour and still not feel excessively tired in the morning. These days, I’m more likely to use the time change as an assist to my morning routine. I’ll be up at 6:30 (for example) instead of 7:30, and I can get in an early workout or do some journaling.

If you’re more of a morning person, this may be a bit less pleasant. You’re going to fall asleep watching TV in the evening (earlier than you usually do, anyway). Maybe you should try to stay up a bit, to get a head start on shifting your routine an hour later.

Plan for pets and kids

To the creatures in your house who are blissfully ignorant of the concept of standardized time, routines are about to get a little weird. Most importantly: they’ll get hungry (and everything else) an hour “earlier” than usual.

If you think ahead, you can start moving breakfast time later. Instead of feeding your dog at 7, start feeding him at 7:30 now, and you’ll be less likely to get a cold nose in the back at 6 a.m. this Sunday. (It may take more than a few days for your pet to fully get used to the new routine, but at least you can make the transition more gradual.)

Same goes for kids: Expect them to wake up an hour before the clock says they should, and to get tired (and overtired) an hour earlier than they normally would. A gradual shifting of routines will help, and you may want to explain the situation ahead of time to kids who are old enough to understand.

And if you expect your own tummy to be grumbling on cue? Consider a gradual change in mealtimes for yourself, as well, or at least have a snack on hand in case you need it.

Expect a colder, darker evening

When daylight saving time ends, we stop “saving” that extra hour of sunlight in the evening. Your evening workout or your evening commute will be darker and colder than before.

On the bright side, we’ll see light earlier in the morning, which can be a good excuse to take a morning walk you might not otherwise take. (Morning light and morning exercise both help to set your body clock and may put you in a better mood for the day to come.)

If you head outside for exercise in the evening, check out our guide to how to layer for an outdoor run, depending on the temperature. You may also want to bring a flashlight.

Revisit your bedtime routine

It may be easier to wake up after the time change, but the flip side is that it may be harder to go to bed. This is a good time to take a look at your bedtime routine, or even to create a bedtime routine if you haven’t really had one.

We have a guide to good sleep hygiene here, but one of the most important tips is to give yourself a wind-down time in the evening—30 minutes minimum—where the lights are dim and you aren’t staring at a screen. It’s a good time to take a bath, read a book, or do something else you find relaxing. Soon you’ll be locked on to your new schedule—at least until our next time change.

   

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