How to Survive Daylight Saving Time

Don't let 'springing forward' ruin your routine.

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Exhausted women everywhere, we have a common enemy: daylight saving time.

At daylight saving time, the easy part is resetting all the clocks in our lives. (Remember the one on the microwave!) What's harder: adjusting our bodies' cellular clocks. When we lop off an hour of the day, we muck up the delicate balance between our physical need to sleep and our circadian rhythm (which generates zzz's in response to darkness). Night falls at a different time than our bodies are used to, and everything gets thrown off.

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What does that mean for you? You'll be tired and have wonky sleep patterns for a while, at the very least. A mere 60-minute change makes a big difference for your body. Scary but true: One study found a 17% spike in the risk of traffic fatalities on the Monday after the clocks move forward, and another found a 25% increase in heart attacks on that day. "I wish, for so many reasons, that we would end daylight saving time," says Michael Irwin, MD, director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. Already, Hawaii and Arizona have opted out of the time change, and 11 other states are considering doing the same.

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Meantime, zillions of us have to spring forward this month. You can skip the exhausted, cranky phase with the strategies here:

Make Changes Before the Time Change

Instead of adjusting a whole hour all at once when the clock switches, try going to sleep and waking up 15 minutes earlier, starting about two weeks ahead. Inch that up another 15 minutes a few days later. This way, by time-change day, you'll be all synced up.

Seek Light Right Away

"Starting within five minutes of waking up, get bright light for a half hour," says Clete A. Kushida, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University Medical Center. Take a walk, drink your coffee by the window, grab a jacket and do your stretches on the patio. "Outside is best, but if the sun isn't up yet, light up your living area," he adds. This slows down the production of sleep-producing melatonin, so you'll feel more alert and ready for the day.

This story originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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