As much as we might look forward to summer and its longer days, most of us dread the “springing forward” that comes with Daylight Savings Time (DST), because we know it’ll be tough on our bodies to sacrifice that extra hour of sleep.
This feeling is backed by data; in fact, researchers have linked this annual change to higher heart attack rates, an increase in traffic and workplace accidents, less balanced sleep cycles and even an increase in “cyberloafing” (a useless surfing of the internet, relating to feeling lethargic and sleepy).
Okay, so it sounds like the next few days might be pretty rough - but is there a way to adjust a little more easily? We think so. Read on to see how we try to cope with Daylight Savings Time.
- Go to bed a little earlier each night the week after. If everyone goes to bed a little bit earlier, you’ll be waking up a little earlier too. This slight change means that even though you might be running a little behind on your sleep, you’re slowly adjusting your body to the change. Daylight Savings time is especially tough on kids, who rely on regular sleep patterns to grow and develop their bodies and brains, so this can be especially helpful for them.
- Try eating healthier the mornings after. Of course we should eat healthy foods, but breakfast doesn’t always work that way (Coco Puffs, anyone?). However, making a special effort to whip up eggs and wheat toast the mornings after DST can be a great way to send a message to your body that it needs to be ready to start the day (no matter what time it is).
- Eat smaller meals and don’t go overboard with exercise. A Swedish study linked DST to a dramatic increase in heart attacks the Monday after the time change. Another also linked DST to an increase in cluster headaches, which are related to your circadian rhythms. Because triggers for both heart attacks and headaches can include how you eat and how intensely you exercise, we recommend cutting down on meal sizes and spacing out both food and exercise throughout the days preceding and after DST.
- Stick to a schedule. Exposure to light – sunlight, in particular – plays a big role in how easily you’re able to adjust to DST. If you can get your kids eating dinner and in bed at the same time, instead of spending the extra hour playing outside right after the time change, they’ll make the adjustment a little bit more easily and their sleep schedule will be able to change gradually, rather than abruptly.
- Avoid alcohol or caffeine near bedtime. Okay, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional glass of wine or a Coke with dinner. But if you’re already sleep deprived or a little more sensitive to changes in the seasons, alcohol or caffeine will mess with your body’s natural ability to sleep, making you feel sluggish, less able to concentrate, and a decrease in optimal performance.
Excited for summer? Whether you follow these tips or not, don’t let Daylight Savings Time get you down. For most of us, it’s a rough week; then, it’s full speed ahead towards warmer weather and fun in the sun.