5 Simple Tips to Adjust to Daylight Savings Time

sleep Mar 07, 2023

Most years, Daylight Savings Time sneaks up on me out of nowhere.


I don’t realize until the night before that I’ll be losing an hour of sleep or that when I wake up in the morning, it’ll be dark and I won’t have the sun to bring me energy. 


I spend the next few weeks tossing and turning because my body doesn’t know to go to sleep earlier.  


I hit the snooze button too many times because my body doesn’t want to wake up when the sun’s not out. 


But, this year I’ve had time to prepare. 


I know how to gradually adjust my body so the time change isn't as much of a shock, and I want you to be able to do the same. 


Why is it so hard to adjust?


Our bodies thrive on routine. 


We are always trying to stay in a rhythm. 


This helps us know when to sleep, wake, eat, digest, reproduce, etc. without always having to consciously make these decisions.


Everything that fills our days - food and drink, physical activity, sunlight, etc. - influences how well we stay in rhythm. 


Our circadian rhythm is in charge of when we sleep and when we wake up. 


The most important influence of this rhythm is light - especially light from the sun. 


After sunset, darkness triggers our bodies to produce melatonin - the hormone that makes us fall asleep. 


After sunrise, the light tells us it’s time to wake up and stop producing melatonin. 


This is why Daylight Savings Time can mess us up so much. 


Our circadian rhythms can be disrupted for days and even weeks after the time change. 


This can lead to sleep deprivation, short-term insomnia, and fatigue. Some studies even show more heart problems and strokes during Daylight Savings Time.


5 Tips for an Easier Adjustment 


Whether you're reading this before or after Daylight Savings Time begins, below are five tips to support your circadian rhythm so you can feel more rested and energized.


1 // Modify Sleep and Wake Times in Advance


The week leading up to the time change, go to bed AND wake-up 15-30 minutes earlier each day. 


For example, if you normally go to sleep at 10 pm and wake up at 6 am, go to sleep at 9:45 pm and wake up at 5:45 am one day. Then the next day aim for 9:30 pm and 5:30 am and continue adjusting until you are going to sleep and waking up an hour earlier before the time changes. 


If you only try one thing, I recommend this. 


The incremental shift prevents the time change from being such a dramatic shock to the body by gradually shifting your circadian rhythm.


2// Get Sunlight ASAP


As soon as you’re awake and the sun is shining, take a few minutes to step outside and soak up some rays. 


The light will tell your body it’s time to wake up and help get rid of any grogginess.


3 // Prioritize Physical Activity Early


Exercising and any type of physical activity like walking, hiking, etc. is a great way to reinforce that it’s time to be awake and alert. 


When we do these activities, we may produce hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that can have a stimulating effect on us. 


So, when we’re trying to wake up or go to sleep earlier like during DST, it can be very helpful to workout in the first half of the day.


4 // "Candle Down" in the Evening


Just like sunlight, any bright or fluorescent light also tells our bodies to stay awake and not produce melatonin.


In the evenings leading up to bedtime, try limiting bright light as much as possible, especially when trying to adjust your circadian rhythm. 


This can look like using candles instead of overhead lights, wearing blue-blocking glasses, or a combination of both after sunset.


5 // Create a Bedtime Routine


In addition to candling down, having a bedtime routine is an effective way to cue your body that it’s time to wind down. 


What are some things you can see, feel, hear, smell and taste that will help communicate it’s time to sleep?


You don't have to do a lot, but make sure it’s the same thing every single night for best results.


BONUS // Work on Foundations


You can be more resilient to any change in life, whether a job, relationship or Daylight Savings Time, when your Foundations of health are solid. 


When you're eating good food, digesting its nutrients, maintaining blood sugar balance and staying hydrated, you can adjust to anything life throws at you. 


And you don't need to guess which one to work on. To see what Foundation may be keeping you tired and frustrated, complete a free Nutrition Assessment below. 


Disclaimer: The information provided by Julianne Salcedo is for educational and informational purposes only and is NOT intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health care provider.


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