Minimize the “spring forward” stress of Daylight Saving Time by planning ahead, says sleep expert Maas

March 9, 2016 by Mark H. Anbinder

"One hour forward isn't too much of a switch," says Cornell professor emeritus James B. Maas, but planning ahead can minimize the stress "for those who can't adjust quickly."

Professor James Maas. Photo by Ed Schipul.Professor James Maas. Photo by Ed Schipul.Professor Maas taught more than 65,000 students over nearly five decades as a Psychology professor, and as CEO of Sleep for Success, is a sought-after speaker for corporations, organizations, and professional and collegiate sports programs.

Even if an hour in either direction at the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time isn't a drastic change, "there is a rise in accidents," Dr. Maas tells us. This year, Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend, so at 2am on Sunday morning, clocks will "spring forward" to 3am.

"Since most of us are at least modestly sleep deprived to begin with," he says, "it wouldn't be a bad idea to begin to repay our sleep debt by going to bed anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes earlier for a few nights before the change."

Setting your alarm clock to wake up five to ten minutes earlier each morning over several days can help reduce the shock of getting up what will feel like an hour early on Monday morning. Maas's advice of getting to bed earlier should make that easier.

Dr. Maas also says, "Take a 15 minute power nap in the afternoon before or after the time switch, and remember, no caffeine after 2pm and no alcohol within three hours of bedtime."

"Avoid all electronics within an hour of bedtime (TV, computers, iPads), take a hot bath before getting into bed, and keep the bedroom about 65 degrees," he adds.

The Ithaca Fire Department reminds area residents that the beginning of Daylight Saving Time also provides an easy-to-remember opportunity to change batteries in home smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

"Sweet dreams," says Professor Maas.

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