Outdated or not, daylight saving time is still a part of our annual routine, and we’ll be setting our clocks forward an hour on Sunday, March 12. While some people cope with the change without a hitch, others have a hard time adapting to the new schedule — and for good reason!
At a time in late winter, when days are still short and nights still long, one hour makes a big difference in the amount of daylight available as we wake up, get ready for work, wind down and go to bed. Daylight is the main regulator of our circadian rhythm, our natural 24-hour sleep cycle; that seemingly slight change in daylight can make it a lot more difficult to fall asleep, wake up and feel energetic throughout the day.
Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use on how to cope with the effects of daylight saving time. These methods have worked for night shift workers, early risers and people who burn the candle at both ends, so they can work for you, too.
Start on Friday
Resetting your internal clock on a Monday morning will only make the rest of the week more stressful. To ease into the change, start by going to bed an hour earlier on Friday night and waking up an hour earlier on Saturday morning. You’ll have the whole weekend to adapt and, if need be, lounge around a little more than usual.
Change Your Mealtimes
Mealtimes are big signals for waking up and going to bed. Many of us don’t really “turn on” until we’ve had our coffee and cereal, and you may not sleep well if your dinner is too early or late. To cope with the time change, adjust your mealtimes slowly, starting a few days out from the switch.
Consistent Morning and Evening Rituals
Food is far from the only thing that puts us to sleep. Circadian rhythms are powerful, but many people become more tired or awake when they go through certain rituals, like reading, early morning hygiene, exercising and more. Find what helps you sleep and wake up, and do it consistently.
A Quality Breakfast
When people think of early morning energy, they usually think of coffee and caffeine. But food is (or should be) your main source of energy in the morning and throughout the day. Coping with the time change on Monday will be a lot easier if you take the time to prepare a balanced breakfast — even if it means waking up a few minutes earlier.
Spend Time in the Sun
A lack of sun exposure is the main cause of seasonal affective disorder(SAD), a condition that tends to cause depression and lethargy. In fact, countries with fewer annual daylight hours have the highest rates of SAD. To mitigate these effects, compensate for the loss of morning daylight with extra sun exposure throughout the day.
Last but certainly not least, regular exercise is a great way to boost your mood and energy levels, and it can help you normalize your sleep schedule. People who exercise several times per week also tend to sleep better at night and report more alertness during the day. To achieve both benefits, avoid intense exercise in the hours before bed — a time when you should be winding down and preparing for sleep. The Fisher-Titus Sleep Center provides services for adults and children age 3 and older, and is dedicated to diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. If you or a loved one are affected by sleeping issues, call us today at 419-668-5537.