We tend to welcome the longer days and warmer weather with the arrival of spring, but maybe not so much the hour we lose when he have to “spring forward” for the return of Daylight Saving Time. According to experts, springing forward is indeed harder on our bodies than it is during the other time of year when we fall back and gain an hour, which matches our body clocks better.
To make matters worse, the clocks always go back on a Sunday morning/Saturday night, which doesn’t give us very much time to adjust to it before Monday. That’s bad news for those of us who use the weekends to catch up on lost sleep from the previous workweek.
The solution? Plan ahead to make the transition less painful.
Start setting your clock back early
A couple days before Daylight Saving hits in full force, consider going to bed 20 to 30 minutes earlier and waking up 20 to 30 minutes earlier. Spreading that hour out by gradually shifting your body clock over the course of the Friday and Saturday before the big time change will help you to deal with it better come Monday.
Exercise during the day
Springing forward gives us all a great excuse to try something new with yoga or any other type of workout. Getting physically active in the morning or afternoon helps regulate our body clocks by pushing it forward a bit and exhausting us a little so we can sleep better at night. Just be sure not to schedule it too close to bedtime.
Get some sunlight
Melatonin is the hormone we rely on for our sleep and wakefulness, which fluctuates depending on how much light we’re being exposed to during the day and at night. It might be worth taking an early morning walk or run to help trigger your internal body clock earlier than normal, while avoiding bright light in the evening hours before you plan to turn in.
Avoid stimulants before bed
On Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night, make sure you pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking. Consuming caffeine, alcohol, sugar or any heavy meals 4 to 6 hours before your earlier bedtime could prevent you from falling asleep at the appropriate time that you planned. Instead, drink water or tea and have a light meal or snack with a combination of healthy protein and complex carbohydrates.
Do something relaxing if you can’t fall asleep
There’s no point in lying there trying to fall asleep at an earlier time if you just can’t. It will likely only make you frustrated. Get up and do something relaxing like journaling (with pen and paper), reading (a real book), meditation or listening to calming music. Remember to avoid all light-emitting electronic devices and keep the room lighting as low as possible.
As a last little tip, be sure to pay extra close attention to the other drivers on the road come Monday and the following few days after the time change. Even if you took the opportunity to plan ahead for the time change to make it easier on yourself, you still have to watch out for the other groggy, disoriented drivers whose body clocks might be taking a hard hit.
Springing forward sure does have its ups and downs. But with the right preparation, we can all get through it!