Despite the fact that Daylight Saving Time (DST) happens once a year, many of us still struggle to cope with the time shift when it comes. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious of which is that it messes with your body's natural clock causing you to feel moody or even stressed.
Daylight Saving Time -- which you're probably already familiar with -- calls for clocks to be set forward an hour in the spring, and pulled back an hour in the fall. This essentially leads to you losing an hour per day in the spring, yet gaining one in the fall months.
In the fall, you may gain an hour of sleep but the rest of your day is going to seem longer. It might feel like you're stuck at work later, or you're waiting around more for your lunch time to arrive.
In the spring, when the clocks move forward, you'll lose an hour of sleep. We don't need to explain how sleep changes can affect your daily life. Getting fewer hours of quality sleep is enough to make anyone grouchy.
In fact, there are numerous studies that argue in favor of DST while others argue against it. Most of the ones that argue for it, claim that the increase in daylight is better for fitness, some industries -- like retail -- benefit from the longer days, and there are even fewer traffic fatalities during DST. However, other studies show the opposite, the most damning of which claims that heart attacks actually increase during the spring time change when we lose an hour, because of how it affects our natural body clocks and health.
The main point to all of this is that Daylight Saving, however helpful, can really mess with our bodies and natural schedules. So, how do you cope? What are some helpful tips to help you prepare for the time changes?
5 Tips for Dealing With Daylight Saving Time
Believe it or not, exercising earlier in the day can help you maintain energy throughout and it also promotes healthy sleeping patterns. This is because when you exercise, a chemical called serotonin is released in your brain that helps your body adjust to various changes. You don't have to do a heavy workout either, just a steady morning walk that gets your heart pumping is enough.
Keep in mind, you'll want to avoid exercising later in the evening as the energy boost can interfere with the quality of your sleep.
2. Keep Naps Short
We know, this proposal sounds crazy. An adult? Taking a nap? Having time for a nap? The thing is, it's not just about taking a nap, it's about making sure you take proper naps. If you get tired and feel that you absolutely must nap, then stick with short -- no longer than 20 minutes -- sessions. Furthermore, ensure that you take your nap earlier in the day. The closer you nap to your bedtime, the less likely you'll be getting quality sleep.
A better suggestion would be to exercise by going for a short walk, but again if you absolutely must nap, keep it short.
3. Don't Eat Late
After the time changes from DST, you may feel hungry earlier or later than usual. It's important that you stick to a regular routine and refrain from eating later in the evening. You always want to afford your body ample time to digest your latest meal.
This is because food in your stomach and the digestion process, can actually affect the quality of sleep you receive. This is interesting, especially since the opposite is true as well: poor sleep can affect your digestion all the same.
4. Set Your Clock Early
The Daylight Saving time change generally takes affect on Sundays, real early in the morning. This can affect you negatively because you lose that hour of sleep -- or gain it -- right before a busy work week. If you can, why not set your clock appropriately earlier in the weekend?
By resetting your clock on a Friday evening or Saturday, you're allowing yourself more time to adjust provided you have the weekends off. If you don't have weekends off, then try to schedule the time change on a day where you have off.
The downside to doing this is that it can confuse your schedule if you have events or activities planned for a certain time. Just remember that you changed the clocks early and you should be just fine.
The most important part about setting your clock early is that you adhere to the time change. Don't stay up later -- when you lose an hour -- for those days you're off thinking it's extra time.
5. Avoid Coffee and Alcohol
There are some foods that you should avoid when trying to get a good night's sleep: coffee, caffeinated beverages and alcohol are all included on that list. Try to avoid drinking any one of these substances before going to bed.
Alcohol can actually cause bad nightmares and severe breathing or respiratory issues, affecting the amount of quality sleep you get; even if it does seem like you're sleeping like a baby sometimes when you drink.
What is Daylight Saving Time?