When it’s time to fall back by 1 hour, be prepared
Daylight saving time (DST) was first instituted in Thunder Bay, Canada in 1908. Today less than 40% of countries around the world seasonally move their clocks forwards and backwards by an hour. On Lord Howe Island in Australia, they change their clocks by 30 minutes instead of an hour. Throughout history other increments of time have been changed—-from 20 or 40 minutes on up to 2 hours. Those who live near the equator, however, have avoided daylight saving time due to their minimal variations in day length throughout the year.
While lawmakers in Oregon, Washington and California are working towards either making DST permanent or abolishing DST, here are some tips to help you charge through the change:
Sleep is key
Sleep helps our brain work optimally, helps us control our weight and even our emotions. It’s while we’re asleep that our body repairs itself, proof that sleep is vital for healing.
To help your body adapt to the hour shift in time:
- On the Friday night before the time change, go to bed and awaken the next morning about 30 minutes later than usual. This will make it easier adjust to the full hour change in time on Sunday.
- Saturday night before the time change, go to bed an hour later than normal.
- You may be tempted to sleep in the extra hour gained on Sunday morning. Don’t! Get your normal amount of sleep so you can stay on track for the coming week.
Before bed do’s and don’ts
Do: Drink some herbal tea and read a relaxing book.
Don’t: View blue-screened devices (electronics and television), drink caffeine or alcohol or take a “sleep aid”
According to Dr. Alon Y. Avidan, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center, you should do everything you possibly can to stick to your normal sleep schedule. Be extra vigilant about going to bed early enough to get a good night’s rest. Within just a few days after the time change you’ll adapt and feel back on track.
The importance of light during daylight saving time
The sun is one of the biggest influences on our bodies and minds. It literally programs us when to wake up and when to go to sleep.
How to use light to your advantage during the transition:
- Get some extra mid-day sun right before and after the time change.
- Use a “dawn simulator” either in addition to or in place of an alarm clock. You’ll be amazed at how natural it feels to wake up to gradually increasing light that mimics a sunrise.
- As soon as you are awake, gradually brighten lights to help you get fully awake. Avoid turning all the lights on at once.
- If you find the shortened days are getting you down, consider using a full-spectrum light in the morning when it’s still dark outside, or in the early evening when its getting dark.
- Get as much natural light during the day as possible.
- At night, avoid using electronic devices or watching TV too close to bedtime. The blue light from the screens and from fluorescent bulbs and LED lights can delay the release of melatonin and can even reset your body’s internal clock.
Exercise is a must, now more than ever
Regular exercise, especially in the morning, will help you more easily adjust to the time change.
- Ideally, get in your physical activity within 30 minutes of getting out of bed. The extra warmth generated from exercising will help your body to awaken.
- If you find you’re unable exercise first thing, just make sure not to exercise too close to bedtime.
- Don’t skimp on exercising. It really is a must.
- If you knew you shouldn’t be eating sugar before, you sure don’t want to eat it now. The quick rush followed by the onslaught of lethargy and sleepiness will be even worse with the time change.
- Pack some snacks. If you’re used to eating lunch at noon, you’ll find yourself getting hungry at 11am after the initial time change.
Daylight saving time is obviously not natural. Even though it can wreak havoc on our health, we can minimize the effects by optimizing our sleep, light exposure, exercise and diet.
It’s also important to be extra careful while driving during the first week or so after the time change. Use caution especially while doing any activity in which you could get hurt. And don’t forget to wear bright-colored clothing at night so you’re easily visible to drivers.
In Oregon, we may have to wait awhile until we can stop changing our clocks back and forth. Oregon Senate Bill 320, which stipulates we’ll be on daylight saving time permanently, was actually passed in June. However, the bill specifies that both California and Washington have to approve their own year-round daylight saving policies before ours can be implemented. Washington’s bill has already passed and California’s is still in the works. After both are passed, a further hurdle is that Congress still has to give the go-ahead for all three states.
We can always dream of the day when we won’t have to keep altering our clocks. That is as long as we’ve successfully adjusted our sleep schedule to accommodate this fall’s time change.
Photos by Malvestida Magazine, Maks Styazhkin, Erik Witsoe, Matthew T Rader and Sanah Suvarna on Unsplash