Do you hate losing that precious hour of beauty sleep during the night daylight savings time takes effect? Does it take you days (or even a week) to recover? Would you like to have done something to prevent that sleepy feeling on Monday, but it didn’t occur to you that you were going to lose an hour until someone mentions it in passing on Saturday?
Well, you can thank Benjamin Franklin for helping interrupt your internal clock. Franklin had the idea that moving the clocks forward an hour would save energy by taking advantage of the extra hour of natural sunlight at the end of the day. For Americans, Daylight Saving Time was adopted during World Wars I and II and dropped in between. Afterwards, the practice was practiced sporadically across the United States, but Daylight Saving Time as we know it, set forth by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, was put into effect in 2007.
The ability to adjust to the time change depends on things like your overall health, your sleep habits and your lifestyle. Ideally, the week leading up to the time change, you should progressively move your bedtime earlier so that by the time Sunday comes, you move easily into Monday. But who has time to go to bed earlier?
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Remember that your circadian rhythm is what governs your daily cycle of waking and sleeping. This rhythm contributes to things like metabolism and importantly, cellular healing. Your circadian rhythm is synced with sunlight. This makes sense, right? Most people are awake during the day when the sun is up, and asleep at night when the sun goes down.
Just as is the case with taking a plane ride west to east, the time change effectively disrupts your circadian rhythm. Therefore, the rhythm needs to be reset. Your circadian rhythm doesn’t depend on what the clock says, because humans invented clocks for convenience. The key to resetting your circadian rhythm is sunlight.
Light is the cue to your brain to stop making melatonin, which causes you to wake up. In the evening, the levels of melatonin start to increase, and effectively, you get sleepy. That means you must use the sunlight to assist you with adjusting to this time change.
The following list are things you can do to survive losing an hour during the week after Daylight Saving Time:
1. Get up at your usual time. Yes, it will definitely feel early, but sleeping in will likely feel worse.
2. Resist the urge to take a nap. This will just make it that much more challenging to get to sleep at bedtime, further disrupting your internal clock.
3. Get up and out. Like I said, light works to suppress melatonin, which makes you sleepy. Your circadian rhythm will sync with the sunlight.
4. Keep your usual workout routine. You may feel a fatigued or a little run down in the coming days, but sticking to your routine will also contribute to your making the adjustment. Just make modifications as necessary.
5. Work out at least 4 hours before your planned bedtime. You essentially confuse your body at a time when you should be staring to wind down.
6. Similarly, don’t eat right before bed. While there are arguments about whether or not this causes weight gain because of the slowing of your metabolism during the night, eating too much or the wrong things can make you feel uncomfortable. Lying down shortly after eating can cause heartburn or reflux and so interfering with your ability to get to sleep.
7. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, particularly at night. You are probably aware that the caffeine will most likely keep you up and active. Although alcohol does help some people fall asleep, it can interfere with the quality of your sleep, which is vitally important during this week.
8. Practice good sleep hygiene. Turn off the television and power down electronic devices about an hour before sleep. If you can’t help yourself, try apps that filter or block the blue light from devices that are known to interfere with sleep.
9. Practice relaxation. Whatever that means to you: a warm bath, warm milk or tea. Make an extra effort to prepare yourself for a restful night of sleep.
Don’t let the time change get you down. Instead see this as the unofficial start of spring, which is right around the corner! If you have falling off the wagon of your New Year’s goals, take this time to reflect and renew your resolve. Take this time to start a healthier lifestyle or take on a new hobby. Even if you didn’t prepare for Daylight Saving Time beforehand, it is possible to have a much smoother transition and come out the other side ready for spring.