Family & Lifestyle

Make the best of daylight-saving time

Wish you had more time during the day? Thanks to daylight-saving time, we all get one extra hour of daylight. Here’s our guide to making positive changes when we turn back the clocks.

When do we change our clocks?

On the first Sunday in April many of us will turn the clocks back an hour. At least, you will if you live in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania or Victoria. It’s part of the annual observation of daylight-saving time which is meant to help us make more of the available light. You’ll also move clocks forward an hour when daylight-saving time starts again on the first Sunday of October.

Here are the dates for the for the next few years:

Daylight-saving time ends Daylight-saving time starts
Sunday 1 April 2018 Sunday 7 October 2018
Sunday 7 April 2019 Sunday 6 October 2019
Sunday 5 April 2020 Sunday 4 October 2020
Sunday 4 April 2021 Sunday 3 October 2021

If you live Western Australia or the Northern Territory then your clocks will remain the same all year as neither of these places use daylight savings time.

If you live in Queensland, you won’t change your clock but you will probably be familiar with the ongoing debate about whether you should. It’s a hotly contested issue, with the majority of city-dwelling Queenslanders arguing that it costs the state $5 billion each year. Most regional Queenslanders are against the idea, arguing that their cows don’t care what time it is and that most work on a farm happens anytime there is daylight. Despite ongoing experiments and arguments, Queensland doesn’t observe daylight-saving time.

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Look after yourself when the clocks change

It may only be an hour, but it can have a big impact on some people.

Many of the ill effects happen when daylight-saving time starts in Spring. Risks of heart attack increase by 24% the day after the clocks are moved forward, and reduces by 21% when clocks move back, according to a study from the United States. The time change is also thought to increase the number of traffic accidents. This may be why clocks are always changed for daylight-saving on a Sunday.

When we set the clocks back in April, it may seem like you get a bonus hour of sleep, but you’ll start to feel the effects within a few days if you haven’t planned ahead. Your body’s internal rhythms and melatonin levels, which help you sleep, will be thrown off balance. The change can make you feel tired, disorientated and cranky as if you are jet-lagged (but without the fun of having been overseas).

Developing a good sleep schedule will help adjust to the change in daylight-saving time. You can do this by:

  • Develop a night-time routine which lets your body know it will be time to sleep soon. A regular bedtime isn’t just for kids!
  • Give yourself enough time to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night — even if it means you spend more time in bed reading or listening to calming music before you go to sleep.
  • Create a restful environment in your bedroom and make it as dark as possible
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

Put the extra hour to good use

The good news is that the end of daylight savings can have a positive influence. Experts say that a new environment is the best way to introduce new habits.

For a short time, we’ll all have more light in the morning, until daylight hours take a dip in the middle of winter.

The extra light in the morning can jump-start your body, giving you the best chance to build better habits for health and productivity:

  • Fit some exercise into the start of your day
  • Eat a good breakfast without rushing
  • Focus on work without being interrupted
  • Head off for work or school earlier so you can beat peak hour
  • Take some time to appreciate your home, pets and family

The effects of daylight-saving ending won’t last forever, so it’s up to you what you’ll do with the extra hour of light while it lasts.

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