Photography, Laura Chouette, Unsplash.com
When daylight saving time ends, we get an extra hour, but our body clocks are thrown for a loop. Here's how to ease the strain on your internal clock.
Many of us envision the end of daylight savings time—otherwise known as “fall back”—as something to look forward to each autumn. We get to turn back the clocks an hour and sleep in on Sunday morning.
Bliss, right? Not necessarily. Any disruption to our sleep routines can throw us off kilter, even affecting our health and safety. Plus, we overestimate the benefits of that extra hour because we're already sleep-deprived and tend to stay up an extra hour or sleep in on the weekends, Dr. Carol Ash, director of sleep medicine at Meridian Health in New Jersey, told today.com.
Here are three ways to make the adjustment to the end of daylight saving time a little easier.
1. Tweak bedtimes—and tune up your sleep habits.
As parents of young children can attest, if you don’t start adjusting bedtimes leading up to the time change, kids’ sleep habits (and parents’) can be thrown off for days, with children waking up early. Health professionals suggest focusing on a later bedtime until the wake-up time adjusts. And don't forget to follow classic sleep advice, such as banning screens from the bedroom, to ensure a better sleep.
2. Be prompt with your meals.
Think of the time change as you would think of jet lag while on vacation. You need to get with the program as quickly as possible so you can enjoy your days. One key way to snap back into your routine is to have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same (new) times every day. "Mealtimes can act as a trigger to help your body clock readjust," reports the CBC.
3. Use that extra hour of sun
Sure, it's first thing in the morning, but get out and enjoy the extra hour of sunlight at the start of the day. Not only does sunlight signal your inner clock to get with the program, but it also helps you avoid symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which often emerge after daylight savings ends. Approximately two to five percent of the population will become severely affected by seasonal depression and sadness, according to Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Health professionals there urge sufferers to seek medical help, which can include medications and light therapy. To prevent SAD, they recommend getting outside and enjoying winter sports, like skating and skiing. The combination of daylight and physical activity is a win-win for your health.
If you still have trouble sleeping, get our tips on how to tackle insomnia.
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