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Daylight Saving Time: 5 Ways to Reap the Benefits

Daylight Saving Time: 5 Ways to Reap the Benefits

Tania Khadder | Excelle

March 09, 2010

On March 11, Daylight Saving Time (DST) began once again.

Time to set your clocks forward and kiss winter — and its depressing 4:30pm sunsets — goodbye. Don’t pretend like you’re going to miss it.

The practice, also known as “spring forward,” is not without controversy.

Its impact on energy conservation — one of the key benefits touted by supporters — is still inconclusive. Some argue that the time change disrupts sleep patterns. Others say it’s unnecessary, and part of a capitalist agenda to trick consumers into spending more money after work.

And then there are those who just hate losing an hour of sleep on that fateful Sunday morning.

Like it or not, DST is here to stay (at least for now). You might as well make it work for you. Here’s how.

1) Change your workout routine
All of a sudden, you’ve got a good two to three hours of daylight after work. Freeze your gym membership for a few months and start an outdoor workout regimen. Run, bike, or join a local kickball team. Even if you love the treadmill, exercising outside is fun and beneficial. First, you get a dose of fresh air and some scenery (sure beats all that sweat and spandex). Second, it’s free. And finally, it’s an opportunity to soak up some much-needed Vitamin D.

2) A new kind of commute
If you’re lucky enough to live close to your office, leave the car in the garage and walk or cycle to work. It’s warm enough, it’s safer than in the winter months, and it’ll get your blood flowing before that morning meeting. Remember what I said about changing up your workout routine? Do this and you may not need one at all. Bonus: You’ll save money on gas.

3) Happy hour just got happier
There’s never a bad time for happy hour. But in the spring and summer months, the allure of an after-work margarita is almost impossible to resist. Everyone’s a lot more receptive to happy hour if the sun is still out when they get to the bar. Take advantage!

Plan a weekly gathering with coworkers to blow off some steam, or connect with those friends you haven’t seen since wedding season (you know who they are).

4) Sleep in for a change
Studies show that people’s sleep patterns actually suffer as a result of the time change. Then again, there are studies that prove the contrary. All I know is that if you’re one of those people I’m jealous of who wake up with the sunrise, less daylight in the morning might be a good opportunity to sleep in a little later, at least on the weekends.

5) Shop for the new season
DST’s opponents argue that its existence is part of some evil plot orchestrated by greedy retailers. To these cynics, I say: bah! So what if it is? People like to shop. And if you don’t have time to do it on the weekends, the extra light makes after-work perusing a hell of a lot more pleasant. You can pick up your summer wardrobe and fight Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) all at once. Win-win.

Whatever you do this time of year, just go outside.

You spend so much of your life in boxes: you go from your room to your car to the elevator to your cubicle. Take advantage of this time of year to soak up the natural light that you already know is great for your mind, body, and spirit. Your day isn’t over just because your workday is.