The end of summer and warm weather has officially set in! No more days at the pool with the kids…no more days spent on a boat under the sun…no more daylight savings…
The end of warm weather also means the end of having that extra hour of daylight. Regretfully, that “extra” hour of sleep that we think we get is false hope. The hour is no more than a way to make us feel more tired at the end of each day. Here are some tips and ideas to get you through the transition.
Your body has an internal clock. It is a 24-hour cycle that controls that in’s and out’s of your body’s day-to-day functionality. The reason you feel tired or sluggish around the same time everyday is this rhythm. There are two points of each cycle that you are at your most tired point. One occurs around 2-4am and the other from 1-3pm (all depending on whether you are a night owl or an early bird).
A portion of your brain controls your circadian rhythm. Outside factors like light and dark impact it. When it’s dark at night, your eyes send a signal that it’s time to feel tired. Then, our brain sends a signal to your body to release melatonin, which makes your body tired.
Your rhythm evolves as you age; slowly changing the normal times you feel tired and times you don’t.
Problems Adjusting to the End of Daylight Savings
You may think, “its only an hour difference, what’s the harm?” Unfortunately, there can be a great deal of harm. Of course, each person handles the ebbs and flows of daylight saving differently. Some may experience little to no affects, others can find it very difficult to cope with the change.
One troubling outcome is waking up earlier each day. Your circadian rhythm is on one schedule, whereas time is on another. Even though your alarm clock is set for 6:30am the same as always; you may find yourself waking up earlier than that for awhile.
Another issue you may run into is waking up frequently throughout the night. Your body is trying to adjust to the new sleep schedule, and will not be as accommodating as you may like.
You also may experience chronic tiredness in the hours prior to your bedtime. Nothing is more frustrating than hitting your “energy wall” early.
All of the issues above can, in turn, lead to anxiousness about sleep. If you’re already expecting to not sleep well you will most certainly have some anxiety while trying.
Helpful Hints and Solutions
As with most tips, they are not 100% effective, and they will not work for everyone. Nonetheless, it never hurts to give them a try!
Slowly adjust your bedtime
Use the weeks leading up to the time change to gradually get your body used to the new time. Each day set your alarm 5 minutes earlier than the previous day. After 12 days you will have adjusted your body to the hour that we’ll get.
Unfortunately, if you’re a “snooze button pusher” (like me…) this tactic will not be as effective.
Take advantage of the sunlight
A big issue with the cold weather months is the lack of sunlight. The lower exposure leads to you feeling more depressed or lonely. That leads to interruptions in your daily routines such as, laziness, trouble concentrating, and chronic fatigue.
Make it a priority to get outside every day, even if its just for 10 minutes. Take a walk during lunch. Try doing your workout outside rather than on the treadmill; anything to get you out of the house each day.
Keep up with your exercise (…or start to!)
Everyone knows that exercising and health go hand-in-hand. Its been repeatedly ingrained in your brain since childhood. That fact comes into play even more between October and March. The more time you spend inside, the more likely you will not be as active.
Try to get at least 30 mins of cardio in, preferably outside, each day. The exercise will keep you healthy, and the sunlight will help your internal clock adjust to the time change.
Additionally, the exercise will assist you in keeping a happy-go-lucky, mood about you.
Have a relaxing routine for bed
A daily bedtime routine is important all year long, especially during the fall and winter months. These months are notorious for sleep struggles, and a solid schedule can help.
Make sure to not physically exert yourself after dinner. Instead, enjoy a few chapters of a book, write in your journal, or create a masterpiece in your adult coloring book.
Avoid caffeine, eating late, & screens
Caffeine intake after dinner will surely create some issues with you falling asleep. Replace that after dinner coffee with some green tea, milk, or water.
It is best for you to not eat after dinner. Also, make sure that dinner is at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed. You feel tired after eating large meals because your body is working hard to digest it. While that may seem like a great time to sleep, the quality of the sleep will be poor.
Lastly, the light emitted from screens like phones, tablets & laptops prevent your eyes from signalling the brain that it is bedtime. Therefore, the melatonin required to help you fall asleep does not get released into your body. That will force you to toss and turn for awhile before finally falling asleep.
Betkowski, Bev. “Expert Debunks Sleep Myths and Offers Four Tips for Getting a Restful Slumber.” Medical Xpress – Medical Research Advances and Health News, Medical Xpress, 12 Mar. 2018, medicalxpress.com/news/2018-03-expert-debunks-myths-restful-slumber.html.
Cunnington, Dr. David. “How Do I Adjust for Daylight Savings Time?” SleepHub, 27 Mar. 2017, sleephub.com.au/end-daylight-savings-time/.
“What Is Circadian Rhythm?” National Sleep Foundation, 2018, www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/what-circadian-rhythm/page/0/1.
WhittakerOct, Alexandra. “End of Daylight Saving Time: How to Adjust.” Reader’s Digest, 2018, www.rd.com/health/wellness/end-of-daylight-saving-time/.
Wescott, Elizabeth. “The Impact of Daylight Saving on the Circadian Clock – Chronobiology.com.” Chronobiology.com, 10 Nov. 2017, www.chronobiology.com/impact-daylight-saving-time-circadian-clock/.
Jason Smith is recognized by the board of polysomnographic technologists (BRPT) as a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) since 2003. He is also Director of Clinical Operations for 6 multi-state sleep diagnostic facilities including the nation’s largest 20 bed sleep disorder testing center. Jason has also been a Co-Author with two research publications featured in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.