Master Daylight Saving Time!
The weather is starting to change, flowers are beginning to bud, adding their color to the landscape, and the bitter chill of winter is being replaced with warmer weather- IT’S SPRING TIME! With all the wonderful changes spring brings us, it also brings a disruption to our normal sleep schedule thanks to the fan-favorite, Daylight Saving Time.
The intention of moving our clocks ahead by one hour is to help us utilize sunlight for a longer period of time, as well as to conserve energy. We follow this time change, later in the year, by ‘falling back’ one hour come late fall once the summer months have gone and the weather turns. Seems pretty simple and something we have learned to accept, but how well are our bodies actually adapting to this time change?
According to a recent study published in June 2020, adjusting our clocks by just 1 hour can lead to some un-ideal circumstances:
- Cardiovascular Diseases (heart attacks)
- Injuries (car crashes)
- Mental and Behavioral Disorders
- Immune-Related Diseases
Why, you may ask? The deal is, just a one-hour time adjustment like this can cause your circadian rhythm (internal master clock) to be drastically thrown out of sync. Your circadian rhythm is responsible for your mental and physical systems throughout the body; specifically your sleep cycle. It is “set” by sunlight, exercise, social activity, and temperature.
By simply artificially adjusting your routine by 1 hour, you have thrown your whole daily routine out of sync; this definitely explains the need for an extra one (or three) cups of coffee the Monday after this change. In addition, the time change can also affect your eating habits. As Dr. Doug Lucas mentions in his sleep webinar, we know that poor sleep can make weight loss and weight maintenance incredibly difficult! Your hormones get thrown out of whack, your eating schedule gets off schedule, and you even might find yourself eating more food throughout the day.
Daylight Saving Time is here to stay with us for a while, though. So instead of trying to quickly adjust all of your habits and routines by an hour in one day, try instead to slowly adjust to this time change. Here’s how: Four weeks before Daylight Saving Time, try adjusting your schedule by 15 minutes. Sounds completely doable right?! A little preparation is all that is needed to make the transition as seamless as possible while maintaining your health goals! Four weeks out from Daylight Saving Time mark on your calendars “adjust by 15 minutes”. Repeat for weeks 3, 2, and 1. Your goal is to adjust your sleeping, waking, exercise, and meal times by 15 minute increments each week. So, by week 2 you’ve adjusted by 30 minutes, week 3 by 45 minutes, and by week 4 (Daylight Saving Time) you’re right on track!
Achieving our health goals is much more achievable, and enjoyable, when you plan for success and create habits that support your overall goals. Don’t let Daylight Saving Time throw you off this year! To avoid the dreaded grogginess, grouchiness, and hunger that many of us struggle with when the clocks get adjusted, simply plan for the change and mark it on your calendars. You’ll be amazed at how adjusting 15 minutes is so much easier than being hit with an hour!