Whew—it’s been a year. Between the novel coronavirus pandemic, the civic unrest, and all the resulting “doomscrolling” and “coronasomnia,” research shows most Americans are mentally and physically exhausted.
In fact, nearly 2 in 3 adults (65%) say the current amount of uncertainty in the U.S. causes them stress, with common symptoms including increased tension in their bodies, “snapping” or getting angry very quickly, unexpected mood swings, and screaming or yelling at a loved one, according to a new survey by the American Psychological Association.
But, thankfully, many of us are about to get a small gift. We’re all about to fall back (into our comfy beds). That’s because when November begins, daylight saving time ends, and we’re all treated to an extra hour in our day or our night. Yes, technically it’s “daylight saving time!” Apparently, we’ve all been saying (and searching for it on Google) wrong by using the plural form i.e. “daylight savings time.”
There’s no shaming here! So, however you choose to say it or search for it—here’s what you need to know about daylight saving time, plus 11 smart things you could do with your extra hour to nourish your mind, body, and spirit.
What is Daylight Saving Time? (or, Fine, Daylight Savings, if You Truly Prefer to Say It That Way)
Daylight Saving Time is the practice of turning the clocks ahead in the spring and back in the fall to maximize our access to natural daylight during warmer months of the year.
Most areas of the United States and Canada observe daylight saving time—with the exception of Arizona (save for the Navajo Nation), Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
When Is Daylight Saving in the US?
Spring forward: Daylight saving in the US starts on the second Sunday in March at 2 a.m. in your local time. This is when we set our clocks forward one hour. During this time, it stays light into the evenings.
Fall back: Daylight saving time ends on the first Sunday in November at 2 a.m. This is when we set our clocks back one hour.
To remember when and how to adjust their clocks, many people use the phrases, “Spring forward,” and “Fall back.”
It’s time now to fall back, so what are we all planning to do with that extra hour?
Fall Back Plans: How to Spend Your Extra Hour
Here are a few ways to spend your extra hour:
- Read a Book. Getting absorbed into a story can be a great way to “escape” and relieve stress. If you're not fond of fiction or novels, try some nonfiction and learn about something new. We recommend “The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It” by Dr. W. Chris Winter and “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor.
- Listen to Music. You already know music can help you fall asleep faster—especially these seven songs—but did you also know it can have a therapeutic effect? Research shows music can boost your brainpower, relieve stress, and make you feel more happy, energetic, and alert. The key is to pick music that moves you. So, fire-up a playlist on Spotify or tell Alexa to play a few of your favorite tunes.
- Research the Issues and Fill out your Ballot. If this important action item has been taunting you from your to-do list, now’s the time to act! Depending on where you live your ballot will be due on or before Tuesday, November 3. Visit usa.gov to learn how, where, and when to vote where you live.
- Take a Free, Virtual Fitness Class. Regular exercise isn’t just good for your heart and your mood, there’s also solid evidence it can help you achieve optimal sleep quality—as long as you don’t do it too close to bedtime. Personally, we’re fans of Yoga with Adriene, a YouTube channel created by Austin-based yogi Adriene Mishler that’s chock full of free classes.
- Make Something. In a year where it feels like we’ve lost so much, it can help to create something. So grab some paintbrushes, dust off your sewing machine, or pick up an adult coloring book and let your creative juices flow. Bonus points if you give whatever you make to someone else, brightening their day as well.
- Watch a TED Talk—or Two or Three! The end of daylight saving presents a great opportunity to squeeze in some continued education or personal growth and TED Talks are a great way to do it. Each talk is capped at 18 minutes, which means you can watch at least three during the hour you gain. To get you started, here are 6 TED Talks That Will Change the Way You Think About Sleep.
- Go for a Walk Outdoors. Fall is a prime time for hiking, but you don’t have to head to the mountains to reap the rewards of time spent outside. Just aim to get out of an urban environment. In a Stanford University study, people who took a 90-minute nature walk experience lower levels of rumination (repetitive thoughts focused on negative aspects of the self) and reduced activity in an area of the brain linked to mental illness compared to those who walked through an urban environment.
- Meditate. From pain relief to better immune function to, yes, improved sleep, the laundry list of things meditation can aid continues to grow. Best of all, even bite-size sessions appear to help. Never meditated before? No problem. Just download an app like Calm or Headspace and find a quiet, comfy place to sit. Both apps offer free intro practices.
- Call a Friend or Loved One. Three in five Americans (61%) reported feeling lonely in 2019—up from 54% in 2018, according to a 2020 report, and those are both pre-pandemic numbers. Stay connected to friends and family during social distancing by picking up the phone or scheduling a virtual coffee date over Zoom. Research shows that maintaining strong social ties is integral to human health and survival—especially during a pandemic.
- Create a Sleep Sanctuary. You’d be surprised how much you can improve your bedroom in just an hour. Check out this Instagram video from home DIYer Cara Newhart (a.k.a. @neverskipbrunch) and then read this Bedroom Makeover story for 20 more ways to transform yours on a budget.
- Get Some Rest. Why not get an extra 60 minutes of sleep? While maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is one of the most important pillars of good sleep hygiene, there’s nothing wrong with taking a power nap. Here’s how to do it right. Or just lay down and rest with your eyes closed. Doing the latter for an hour is equivalent to getting 20 minutes of restorative sleep, says sleep specialist Michael Breus, Ph.D.
If you found this article helpful, consider sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram or emailing it to friends and family members who might benefit from a better night’s sleep. Sharing is caring!