There's no doubt about it: Americans hate turning their clocks forward in spring and backward in fall. In fact, the U.S. Senate, usually a very contentious body, voted unanimously to keep our clocks set to daylight saving time forever. Even so, I'm pretty certain that "spring forward, fall back" will be with us for many years to come, and we should all learn to make the best of it. 

In a YouGov poll of 1,500 Americans, 63 percent of respondents said they wanted to stop changing the clock twice a year. Only 16 percent wanted to keep doing it, with 21 percent undecided. Those numbers are right in line with my own informal poll of the more than 500 readers who get a daily text from me with a motivational micro-challenge or self-care tip. Most said they hated changing the time back and forth. A few who had moved to Arizona (where there is no daylight saving time) said they loved no longer having the time change. Several quoted studies show that the time changes at the start and end of daylight saving time seem to cause an increase in both car accidents and strokes.

But when it came to the question of which time should be permanent--standard time or daylight saving--the answer wasn't so clear. A little more than half wanted permanent daylight saving, saying how important it was for themselves and others to have some daylight time after work, and that it would likely benefit the economy as well.

Many others, especially those with children, didn't like daylight saving time at all. Parents of school-aged children told me that daylight saving time was tough on their kids. It was difficult to get the kids up for school in the morning when it was dark, and equally difficult to get them into bed at a reasonable hour when it stayed light so late. One noted that in some parts of the country, permanent daylight saving time would put sunrise after 9 a.m. during the shortest days of winter. That would mean children heading to school in the dark, which could create a safety issue.

Some also noted that, if you follow the science, you should prefer making standard time permanent because it more closely matches our own circadian rhythms, which is generally healthier. That may be especially important for teenagers, who already struggle with getting up in the morning for biological reasons, and who are already facing a nationwide sleep deprivation crisis

We tried this once before

So that's the conundrum. A permanent change to standard time would be healthier for everyone, especially children and teens, but most people prefer a switch to permanent daylight saving time. Or at least, they think they prefer it. They may be mistaken, though, because it was tried once before. In 1973, Congress passed a bill to make daylight saving time permanent, and President Richard Nixon signed it. At the time, 79 percent of Americans supported the change. That support faded as children started going to school in the dark, some of them carrying flashlights. A 6-year-old girl in Alexandria, Virginia, was hit by a car in the predawn darkness, breaking her leg. By the time the law was repealed 10 months later, only 42 percent of the public still wanted it.

Many members of Congress are old enough to remember these events, and most know that doing away with the twice-a-year time change is more complicated than it first appears. That may be why House leaders both voiced their support for the popular idea of permanent daylight saving time and declined to say when or whether they would actually vote on it. My guess is that permanent daylight saving time will either fade away for lack of a vote or, if it does pass, will be repealed sometime later just as it was in the 1970s.

If I'm right that we'll be stuck springing forward and falling back for the foreseeable future, it's probably smart to plan for the twice-a-year change so you can lessen its effects.

1. Make sure you get plenty of sleep.

Lack of sleep and disorientation is what drives the negative effects of changing the time. So while it's always important to try to get eight hours of sleep at least every night, it's especially important in the days leading up to the time change. Make sleep a priority for those few days even if you can't do it the rest of the year.

2. Use routines to reset your internal clock. 

At, we write a lot about how regular daily routines can benefit your mood, productivity, and even brain function. Here's one more reason to love a well-crafted routine: It can help you adapt to daylight saving time and also get over jet lag faster. That's because if, say, you drink a cup of tea and spend five minutes meditating at precisely 7 a.m. every day, whenever you drink that tea and sit down for that meditation, you are telling your unconscious mind that it is now 7 a.m.

3. Create a humane schedule for yourself and your employees.

Switching to an earlier morning, or a later evening, is hard for both you and the people who work with you. So take that into account when setting work schedules and team meetings. Don't expect your employees, colleagues, customers--or yourself--to be fully alert and mentally engaged at an 8 a.m. meeting the week after daylight saving begins, and don't expect them to be at their best at 4 p.m. on the week after it ends. Avoiding both early-morning and late-afternoon meetings is smart any time of the year, because it means you'll be meeting with employees when they're most alert and best able to contribute new ideas or absorb new information. But in the weeks when daylight saving time begins or ends, it's especially important.

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