Four Ways for Students to Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

Student sleeping on her computer after a time change.

Kalamurzing /

Springing forward might help us shake those winter blues, but in reality, losing an hour of sleep is a drawback. Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time is especially challenging for busy students who need energy to complete their assignments, keep up with their activities, and balance their social lives.

According to WebMD, it can take a week to fully recover from lost sleep. The outcome of sleep loss depends on health, sleep habits, and lifestyle. Students with sensitive sleep patterns may have a harder time catching up after a time change. Commuters must be especially careful about losing sleep, because drowsiness increases the likelihood of a car accident. Other results of lost sleep include depression, forgetfulness, weight gain, impaired judgment, and decreased ability to learn.

Each spring, after the clocks steal an hour of sleep, students roll out of bed, groggy and disoriented. They rush to gulp down a pot of coffee and later fall asleep at their desks. Avoid being that student this year. Let’s talk about four ways to stay strong and adjust to the lost hour.

1. Nap.

Taking an afternoon snooze is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s beneficial. You’ll be in a great mood when a scheduled nap increases your focus, productivity, and memory.

Take certain precautions when you're trying to adjust to a new sleep schedule:

  • Limit your consumption of caffeinated beverages, which lead to caffeine crashes.
  • Deep sleep causes grogginess. To ward off those feelings of disorientation, only doze for 20-30 minutes. The shorter the nap, the less groggy you will feel when you wake up.
  • Avoid late-afternoon or evening naps that interfere with your nighttime sleep.

For a successful nap, lie down shortly before you need to go to class or work so you can’t indulge in the glory of the snooze button. Set an alarm for 20 minutes later and wake up feeling focused, relaxed, and rejuvenated. Goodnight!

2. Exercise.

A girl exercising to release stress and improve sleep quality as a way to adjust to daylight savings time.

Alliance /

When you work out, your body releases several different chemicals in the brain that stimulate memory, decrease depression and anxiety, improve self-confidence, and enhance energy. Those benefits are important after a poor night’s sleep, but you might feel too tired to make it to the gym. No problem! Replace a high-intensity workout with a walk or bike ride. Note that while most workouts will help you sleep better, certain activities have additional benefits. Running and yoga calm the mind and increase focus. Meanwhile, handball and football benefit hand-eye coordination.

One day of working out will not improve a week’s worth of poor sleep and eating habits, but a morning workout may make the lost sleep less noticeable. Research has shown that for a person to enjoy better overall sleep, they need to have a regular exercise routine.
A half-hour workout three days a week for several weeks can add over an hour of good sleep per night, improve your happiness, and lower stress.

It may sound like a lot of work, but exercising will improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. At the end of the day, when bedtime comes, you can lie down. You’ll be worn out, proud of your productivity, and ready for dreamland.

3. Stick with a healthy routine.

Daily routines can help you fulfill responsibilities and stay motivated to complete activities as scheduled. That goes for all of your schedules: sleep, work, exercise, etc. Don’t let the bags under your eyes weigh you down. Stick to your regimen.

When your sleep schedule is altered, it is imperative that you have a healthy routine that balances responsibility and relaxation. If you don’t already have a routine, make one. Meg Selig, author of Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success, suggests that your routine should:

  • Prioritize responsibilities
  • Promote creativity
  • Give you some downtime
  • Allow for sufficient time to sleep
  • Include activities that keep you busy and away from self-destructive impulses
  • Enhance physical health and well-being

4. Focus on your work.

Exhaustion takes a toll on your ability to concentrate. Research has shown that a person’s focus is affected by both his or her anxiety and the intensity of a distraction. Increase your concentration by reducing your anxiety and removing distractions. Here are some tips:

  • Girl laying on the couch and studying after a time change.

    Alliance /

    Breathe. Slow breathing coincides with a slow heart rate. By breathing slowly, you can calm your body and mind. Become more aware and less stressed instantly.
  • Take a five-minute break. Rejuvenate and avoid mental fatigue. Walk away from your work for five minutes every half hour. It’s good for you.
  • Do the most important tasks first. Avoid emails, phone calls, and social media until the most pressing matters have been completed.
  • Turn off distractions. We are constantly pulled away from our work by a black hole of websites, emails, videos, and texts. Turn off your phone and unplug your TV. Better yet, download an app like SelfControl to do it for you.

Daylight Saving Time might rob you of an hour of precious sleep, but if you heed this advice, you’ll be bright-eyed all week. Wake up and seize the day!

About Katelyn Brush

Katelyn likes learning, good health, traveling, and pizza on Fridays. Her mixed education, composed of SUNY the College at Brockport, a semester at a community college, and one abroad at the University of Oxford, helped her earn a bachelor’s degree in English. College also gave her a few lessons in Taekwondo and sleeping in a hostel dorm with total strangers. She’s a yoga teacher, author and illustrator of the children’s book, “Signing Together: A Guide to American Sign Language for Everyone.” As a Student Caffé writer, she hopes to help you through the highs and lows of college with a laugh ... or 20.

Leave a comment