Daylight Saving Time Tips To Help Your Body Adjust
'Fall Back' With These 15 Tips To Help Your Body Adjust
Nov 02, 2021
As Daylight Saving Time ends, it’s time to think about adjusting our schedules to make sure our sleep doesn’t suffer.
The clocks change twice a year, but somehow, we’re never fully prepared for the way it affects our sleep pattern. As we prepare to “fall back” on Sunday, November 7 discover the best ways to prep for — and cope with — that pesky time change.
Instead of dreading the early sunsets, look at the time change as an opportunity to make a few tweaks to your daily routine. From practicing healthy bedtime habits to adjusting your outlook, this article will highlight some simple things that you can do to make the adjustment easier on you.
Before heading to bed on November 6, many Americans will set their clocks back one hour to prepare for the end of daylight-saving time (DST). Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands do not practice DST, and there are more than 30 other states that are pursuing legislation to end Daylight Saving Time in favor of adopting DST as the permanent year-round time.
The end of daylight-saving time is as much a process of mental preparation as it is the physical act of turning back clocks. As the days get shorter and colder, it becomes much harder to step out from under our bed covers and into the dark morning. Leaving work at 5 p.m. and encountering darkness is a decidedly gloomy prospect. Like it or not, the end of daylight-saving time is upon us — we “fall back” at 2 a.m. Sunday.
Every year when the end of daylight-saving time rolls around, we all go through the same painful readjustment period. Feeling tired and groggy is no fun — and neither is finishing the workday to discover the sun’s already down. Today we’re going to discuss the science behind why DST may not be so great for health and we’ll also share the best tips for easing the time transition.
Daylight Saving is probably a bigger issue than most people think. People are chronically sleep-deprived, and adjusting their sleep further augments this sleep deprivation. Many people adapt to time changes and believe the effects of DST subside gradually after a few weeks; some studies have suggested the human body never fully acclimates to DST. Rather, their circadian misalignment may become a chronic or permanent condition. This can lead to more serious health problems for many people.
'Falling back' affects more than your schedule. Let's talk Circadian Rhythm...
Moving the clock back one hour doesn’t just affect your schedule — it can throw off your body’s internal clock, too.
Setting the clock back affects your body’s circadian rhythms — the physical, mental, and behavioral changes in your body that follow a 24-hour cycle, according to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) definition.
Our bodies expect certain things to happen at certain times during the day (like sleeping, waking up, and eating) based on cues from the sun and on your doing those things over and over again at the same time every day. For example, natural sunlight during the day and the absence of light in the evening help to drive our circadian sleep phase.
That hour of sleep that’s gained can leave you feeling jet-lagged. groggy and irritable. It can also be dangerous. Studies have found that heart attacks and workplace injuries increase after the “fall back” time shift. Also, stroke rates are 8 percent higher, according to a study by the American Academy of Neurology.
Misaligned Body Clocks Can Increase The Risk of Seasonal Depression
If you feel out of sorts after the time change, you’re not alone.
Leaving for work in the dark and experiencing less sunlight during the day leads to lower vitamin D production, which has been linked to low mood and depression, as well as fatigue, muscle pain, and weakened bones.
Less daylight can kickstart seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, a type of depression that typically begins in the fall and leaves its sufferers feeling moody and drained of energy.
SAD is a form of depression that follows a recurring seasonal pattern, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). And even for people who don’t have the more severe symptoms associated with depression (decreased interest in work, friends, or hobbies; insomnia; dramatic changes in appetite; feeling worthless or empty; suicidal thoughts; and others), estimates suggest that a lot of people experience these mood changes to a lesser extent with symptoms like sad mood, low energy, trouble concentrating, weight gain, and increased cravings for carbs — more commonly referred to as the “winter blues.”
SAD typically strikes during the fall and winter months, when daylight hours are shorter.
While you can’t escape shorter days, you can minimize their effects on your physical and mental well-being. For those still chasing the goal of becoming a morning person, the annual change can be a good time for a sleep reset. The end of DST may offer a good opportunity to reevaluate your sleep habits and figure out how to improve them. Kind of like a New Year’s resolution, DST is a good excuse to do something about your sleep.
The transition from daylight-saving time can help us recommit to better habits around sleeping and wellness. You could simply take advantage of being an early bird and just stay on the earlier schedule.
Many people welcome the one extra hour of sleep that we gain when we fall back, however the time change could bring some challenges. Here some tips to help you ease into it and also ensure your sleep doesn’t suffer.
1. Prepare For the Time Change
That extra hour of sleep this weekend can feel like jet lag for some. Soon, your sleep rhythm might make you want to go to bed earlier than usual. Our advice is to start preparing a few days in advance to make the transition easier for your body. Rather than shifting your bedtime and wake time by an hour at once, you could try shifting them over four days, so that would be 15 minutes a day. Start two days before the clocks change, and wrap up two days after.
2. Practice Basic Sleep Hygiene - Good habits for good sleep
Bedtime routines aren’t just for kids! It’s also important for adults to establish good sleep hygiene habits. Keep bedtime routines the same! Try to have as few interruptions as possible to one’s nighttime rituals (timing, bath or shower, reading, eating habits) as this will help alert your body that it’s time to fall asleep. Practicing healthy sleep habits is important no matter what time of year it is. If you’re already sticking to a consistent sleep routine, you’re less likely to be affected by the hour switch than if you’re regularly shifting sleep and wake times from day to day.
You should make sleep a priority. Many treat sleep like something that will automatically happen as soon as they hop into bed. However, going to sleep is more like bringing a car to stop. You gradually take your foot off the gas and then slowly ease it onto the brake. That means we have to prioritize sleep in order to give ourselves the time we need to relieve and deal with anxiety before we try to sleep.
3. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule 7 days a week
It can be tempting to stay up late or change your routine now that you have an extra hour in the day. However, disruptions to sleep can affect our mood, energy levels, concentration, and overall health. The closer you stick to your normal routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, the faster your body will adjust to the time change.
Staying consistent with the amount of sleep you get each night helps, too — and that includes weekends. Sleeping in on weekends may sound like a good idea, but it can disrupt your sleep cycle
So, one of the most important rules for better sleep is to pick a bedtime and stick to that sleep schedule 7 days a week.
4. Develop a bedtime routine
Once you’ve determined your schedule, use the hour before bed as a power-down hour. Have a routine of activities or actions you do every night before bed. This can help signal to your brain that it’s time to start winding down for the day. Try taking a hot shower or bath with a CBD Bath Bomb, sipping on a cup of non-caffeinated tea and swallowing a CBD Sleep Support capsule, reading a book (not on a screen) or listening to meditation audio. OR you break it into three twenty minute blocks…The first twenty minutes should be used to take care of unfinished tasks that can’t wait until the morning. The second twenty minutes should focus on your hygiene ritual. (A warm bath is both relaxing and conducive to a good night’s sleep.) Finally, the last twenty minutes should be used to do something relaxing. These types of relaxing activities will help your mind and body settle down for a good night’s sleep.
5. Only use your bed for sleep and sex
Your mind adjusts to the habit of getting into bed for a purpose. Train your brain that your bed is only used for sleep and sex. Also, keep your bedroom tidy and free of clutter. Make sure that your bedroom is dark, comfortable and the perfect temp for you. I can’t stress this enough, keep electronics out of the bedroom, and, if at all possible, don’t look at them an hour and a half to an hour before bedtime.
6. Never hit snooze again
As the saying goes: You snooze, you lose. When using the snooze function, not only are you delaying the inevitable, you’re also not using the extra time well. Falling back to sleep after an alarm takes time. Between each ring of the alarm, you’re not getting as much sleep as you think.
In short, your snoozy nap isn’t really that helpful. It’s better to get up immediately when your alarm goes off. Try it and you’ll see what we mean.
7. Get Sunlight in the morning / Imitate a sunrise
Humans are naturally accustomed to waking up to sunlight. Yet, in the winter months, waking up during a dark morning might feel like waking up in the middle of the night. Light plays a key role in your sleep rhythm. Exposing yourself to the bright light in the morning will help you adjust quicker.
Sunlight plays a key role in regulating mood and sleep-wake cycles. In particular, getting sunlight first thing in the morning helps tell your body it’s morning and it’s time to be awake, helping you realign your body’s circadian rhythms to the new non-DST time. One study, published in June 2017 in Sleep Health, found that office workers who received higher levels of sunlight in the morning during winter months reported better sleep quality, lower levels of depression, and reduced sleep-onset latency (the time it takes to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow) compared with office workers who received lower levels of sunlight.
8. Spend Time Outdoors
Since natural light is a driving force behind our circadian rhythms, exposure to sunlight can alleviate feelings of tiredness during the day that often accompany time changes. Spending time outside during the day also suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone released in the evening to help you feel tired and ready for bed.
A U.K. study published in August 2021 in the Journal of Affective Disorders came to a similar conclusion. After studying data from 400,000 participants, researchers found that each additional hour people reported spending outdoors during the day was tied to lower odds of depression, antidepressant usage, and low mood. More time spent in daytime light was also linked to greater ease with getting up in the morning and less frequent tiredness throughout the day.
Exposure to light through your windows helps, too. Think about repositioning your desk (if you can) or the table where you eat breakfast.
9. Consider Light Therapy as a Stand-In for Natural Sunlight
If you typically wake up before sunrise, or you have a hard time getting outdoors, consider using light therapy as a stand-in for natural sunlight. This involves the use of a small device that emits a type of artificial light shown to mimic outdoor light.
When used in the morning (typically, right after you wake up, the Mayo Clinic notes), light therapy can signal to your body that it’s time to be awake, helping kick-start your internal clock so it aligns with the clock on your phone, according to a 2019 review in Somnologie. And remember, realigning your internal clock is especially important right after the end of DST.
For maximum effectiveness, use the lightbox for about 20 to 30 minutes within an hour of waking up every day, making sure to sit about 16 to 24 inches away from the box, suggests the Mayo Clinic.
Another thing you could try is Vitamin D Supplements. Earlier sunset means you’re less likely to get your daily dose of vitamin D from the sun. That’s why the fall is the perfect time to add a vitamin D supplement to your routine. In addition to helping maintain healthy bones, vitamin D can also support brain health.
10. Limit screen time
Avoid screens before bed: the blue light emitted by phones, tablets, televisions, and other electronics can disrupt your sleep cycle. Instead of scrolling through TikTok and Instagram, opt for a calming activity like journaling or reading. Electronics’ high-intensity light stimulates your brain and hinders melatonin, a hormone that triggers sleepiness. Our phone and computer screens emit high levels of blue light, which can negatively impact sleep. Blue light affects your circadian rhythm and melatonin (sleep) hormone levels, tricking your brain into thinking it is still daytime. Try to use an app that filters out or blocks blue light to help you get a better night’s sleep. Many devices allow you to set a timer, so your screen automatically reduces the amount of blue light at night and returns to normal in the morning.
11. Avoid the temptation of naps
Avoiding naps is key for adjusting to the time change. Shutting your eyes mid-day is tempting, especially if you’re feeling sluggish. But avoiding naps is key for adjusting to the time change, as long daytime naps could make it harder for you to get a full night’s sleep. Also, longer naps can disrupt your normal sleep patterns and leave you feeling more tired overall. If you absolutely have to take a nap, take them early and for no longer than 20 minutes.
12. Limit caffeine & alcohol, especially in evenings
Put down the coffee and caffeinated beverages four to six hours before bedtime. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may prevent your body from relaxing naturally at night. Alcohol and food can also impact your sleep by disrupting your sleep hormones. Help your body relax and prepare for sleep by avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and snacks later in the evening. If you are feeling hungry, keep your snacks small and light.
Both caffeine and alcohol disrupt sleep, and while it might be tempting to use these as aids to combat Daylight Saving sleepiness, they’ll leave you feeling even less rested.
13. Get regular exercise / Avoid exercise before bedtime
This can be a tool to help with sleep all year round, but it’s especially important to pay attention to physical activity during the beginning or end of Daylight-Saving Time. Studies have shown how exercise helps people with jet lag or adjust to time changes, whether from Daylight Saving or traveling to different time zones.
Exercise releases natural feel-good chemicals in your brain that can boost your sense of well-being and help distract you from negative thoughts that may dampen your mood, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s why exercise helps boost energy levels, which help you cope with some of that extra fatigue you might be feeling, given the shortage of sunlight. Exercise is associated with an uptick in neurotransmitters and proteins called neurotrophic factors, which are thought to lessen symptoms in people with depression, research suggests.
Exercising too close to bedtime may interfere with sleep (by blocking the release of melatonin, the hormone that signals to your brain it’s time to sleep). Instead…before bed, slow your body down. Raising your body’s core temperature can make it harder to sleep, so avoid heavy workouts within a few hours of bedtime. Instead, try relaxing activities, such as reading in a different room or going for a walk, before bed can also be of benefit.
14. Drive and walk safely
The end of Daylight Saving Time means increased driving dangers. “Fall Back” means sun glare for the morning commute and earlier darkness for the evening. The earlier darkness will make poorly lit or unlit roads risky to motorists and pedestrians.
- Drivers should approach crosswalks and intersections with care. Be on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians. Make sure your vehicle headlights, taillights, and signal lights work properly. And clean windshields, replace worn wiper blades and refill fluid reservoirs. Also, avoid distractions and don’t drive when you’re drowsy. Or on the other hand…. you may have gone to bed early, but the driver next to you may have binge-watched “Squid Game” into the early morning. Stay alert.
- Pedestrians walking in the evening should wear reflective gear and carry flashlights. Walk against traffic, but bicycle ride with traffic. Cross at corners, not in mid-block.
15. Change clocks Saturday
To make the time change feel more natural, set all the clocks in your home back the night before the switch. While most smartphones and computers update the time automatically, there are a number of clocks that you’ll need to change manually. Consider changing the clocks in your home, including those on your microwave, oven, and car, before you go to bed on Sunday. In the morning, you’ll be relieved to know all of your clocks have the correct time. This way, when you wake up, you’ll be prompted (by your clocks) to start adjusting to the new time right away (and a day ahead of the start of the workweek on Monday, when you might be more likely to be affected by being thrown off schedule).
Setting the time back one hour is relatively simple, it’s the remembering that can prove an obstacle. Write a note this week and place it on the fridge or someplace else you’ll see it often.
For those of you who are dreading ‘falling back’ with the end of daylight-saving time—don’t worry, you’ve got this. Sure, it’s never fun to end your workday and discover that the sun has already gone down — but why not take it as an opportunity to go all-in on fall activities? Instead of dreading the darker evenings, indulge in cozy nights wearing comfy clothes. Plan a pajama-party movie night complete with hot apple cider and fresh popcorn, or challenge a few of your friends to a board game or card-game tournament.
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