This annual ritual means that we will be setting our clocks back one hour that day. For some people, that can take some adjustment and it might take some time to adapt to the new schedule.
As we prepare for winter, when days are short and nights are long, one hour makes a big difference in the amount of daylight available as we wake up, get ready for work, wind down and go to bed. Daylight is the main regulator of our circadian rhythm, our natural 24-hour sleep cycle. A slight change in daylight can make it more difficult to fall asleep, wake up and feel energetic throughout the day.
To help you prepare for this weekend, here are a few tips you can use to cope with the effects of daylight saving time.
Prepare for the Time Change
Resetting your internal clock on a Monday morning will only make the rest of the week more stressful. To ease into the change, start by going to bed an hour earlier on Friday night and waking up an hour earlier on Saturday morning. You’ll have the whole weekend to adapt and, if need be, lounge around a little more than usual.
Mealtimes are big signals for waking up and going to bed. Many of us do not really start the day until we’ve had our coffee and cereal, and you may not sleep well if your dinner is too early or late. To cope with the time change, adjust your mealtimes slowly, starting a few days before the switch.
Be Consistent With Your Rituals
Food is not the only thing that puts us to sleep. Many people become more tired or awake when they go through certain rituals, like reading, early morning hygiene, exercising and more. Find what helps you sleep and wake up, and do it consistently.
Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day
When people think of early morning energy, they usually think of coffee and caffeine. But food is (or should be) your main source of energy in the morning and throughout the day. Coping with the time change on Monday will be a lot easier if you take the time to prepare a balanced breakfast — even if it means waking up a few minutes earlier.
Spend Time in the Sun
A lack of sun exposure is the main cause of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition that tends to cause depression and lethargy. To counteract these effects, compensate for the loss of morning daylight with extra sun exposure throughout the day.
Regular exercise is a great way to boost your mood and energy levels, and it can help you normalize your sleep schedule. People who exercise several times per week also tend to sleep better at night and report more alertness during the day. To achieve both benefits, avoid intense exercise in the hours before bed — a time when you should be winding down and preparing for sleep.
It is important to allow enough hours for sleep. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep, most adult 7.5-8 hours. Allowing enough hours for sleep ensures that the brain remains alert and awake during the day. Adequate hours of sleep also helps with memory and controlling other medical problems.
A good night’s sleep is essential to a productive day and healthy lifestyle. If you have continuous sleep problems, the Fisher-Titus Sleep Center provides services for adults and children age 3 and older, and is dedicated to diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. If you or a loved one are affected by sleeping issues, visit fishertitus.org for more information on the Fisher-Titus Sleep Center or call 419-668-5537.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Nicole Danner, who is board certified in sleep medicine, serves as the medical director for the Fisher-Titus Sleep Center and is a member of the Fisher-Titus Medical Center medical staff. In addition, she is a fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Neurologists and Psychiatrists. Dr. Danner practices at Advanced Neurologic Associates Inc. in Bellevue and Norwalk and also sees patients at the Fisher-Titus Sleep Center.