This Sunday marks the beginning of daylight saving time which begins at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. That means it’s time to “spring your clocks forward” and unfortunately, lose an hour worth of precious sleep.
For some people, it isn’t easy winding the clock forward by one hour as part of the daylight saving schedule. There are those who complain that daylight saving time affects their health, mood and body clocks, and that their sleeping patterns are out of synchronization.
Traditionally, the November time change is much easier on our system than the March adjustment, in which we lose an hour overnight. After this “spring forward” change, suddenly it stays light into prime time and is darker when we wake up, leading people to naturally want to stay up later and sleep in longer.
But take heart. Those first few mornings don’t have to be dire. A few strategic steps will help your body adjust quite easily.
- Gradually adjust your sleep patterns – Go to bed 15 or 20 minutes earlier the night before and the night of the time change. This will help ease your body into the new schedule. Changing other routines may also help your body clock adjust. For example, you may want to eat dinner an hour earlier than normal.
- Exercise in form of a brisk walk or run can help people adjust to the advanced clocks. Taking a brisk walk or run stimulates the serotonin release in the brain and other types of neurotransmitters that will phase-advance your internal clock.
- Get exposure to bright natural light for an hour or two. According to Harvard University Gazette, people can adjust their daily rhythms by sitting in front of “light boxes”, which are banks of fluorescent bulbs that emit two to three times more light than found in a typical room at home.
- Avoid heavy alcohol and caffeine – It should be obvious, but some people forget that coffee is not the only drink containing caffeine. Tea (black, not herbal), chocolate and cola drinks are also high in caffeine. Alcohol may feel like it’s soothing to you, but it isn’t. Research has shown that alcohol upsets sleep, preventing a deep rest. Your body actually takes about an hour per drink to process the alcohol. That means if you want to drink two glasses of wine, you should be finished at least two hours before going to bed. While you are adjusting your sleep patterns with the time change, you should try to avoid both caffeine and alcohol.
- Take low dosage melatonin supplements to boost melatonin levels, as melatonin regulates cycles of sleep and wakefulness and may help you fall asleep sooner.
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