How to outwit spring forward daylight savings so it doesn’t mess you up! In March, the daylight saving time change totally throws my circadian rhythm out of whack. And although you may think an hour shouldn’t make that much difference, it does! And here’s why.
We all have an internal body clock (aka circadian rhythm). This clock tells us when to go to bed, how long to sleep, and when to get up. It’s directly affected by light. In an ideal world, we’d all go to bed when it gets dark, and rise with the sun.
When my husband I go on vacation somewhere gorgeous, like Hawaii, we tend to fall into a more natural circadian rhythm after a few days. It happens naturally because we stop work, stop stress, and do a 75% digital detox (heaven). And as a result, we feel way healthier. I wish I could live this way all the time!
However, I’ve trained myself to be quite good at listening and honoring my body clock, even when not on vacation. But because I’m so in tune with my circadian rhythms, when they are thrown off, it affects me a LOT. Yep, this is why I need to outwit spring forward daylight saving!
I usually wake up at 6:15 am, but the spring forward daylight saving would make this feel (to my body), like 5:15am. This makes a huge difference. This hour when my body is usually getting its last precious hour of deep sleep is rudely interrupted by my alarm. And, even though it’s a Zen alarm clock gentle chime, I don’t like it! And it takes me at least a few days of feeling a bit fuzzy-headed in the mornings before my internal body clock recalibrates.
So, the big question is: why don’t I go to bed an hour earlier to mitigate this? I wish it was that easy! Most of us do best with 7-8 hours of sleep, so it does make sense to get to bed earlier. However, I need a bit of help in getting sleepy enough to want to go to bed an hour earlier. Here’s what I’ve found helpful to outwit the spring forward daylight saving situation.
- Cut back on caffeine. I don’t drink coffee, but I do drink a lot of tea. During that spring forward daylight saving week, I help my body by decreasing my caffeine intake. This means I only drink caffeinated tea in the morning.
- I always take a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone that signals our body when to get sleepy and when to perk up. We naturally make this hormone, but I think it’s useful to supplement when your body clock is thrown off it’s regular rhythm. I LOVE Natrol’s Melatonin Gummies (5mg), which are strawberry flavored. They contain organic sweeteners, they’re non-GMO, gelatin-free, and vegetarian. I also love (and travel with) Natrol’s Melatonin Fast-Dissolve (3mg). They absorb fast, which is great when I’m suffering from jet lag and need to get to sleep quickly. Melatonin is a 100% drug-free sleep aid, which helps you to fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer. So look for Natrol’s purple bottle top, and make sure you get your melatonin from America’s #1 Melatonin brand.
- A Brisk Morning Walk: It really helps to bathe my body in light as soon as I can after waking up. I force myself to pull on my tennis shoes, grab the pups (at least they’re thrilled), and take off around the block for a brisk walk. This not only exposes my body to light, but it also gets my circulation going. It makes a huge difference.
- Don’t plan early morning meetings! I avoid breakfast meetings or anything that requires too much concentration in the early morning for the first week of spring forward daylight saving. Studies have actually shown that there is an increase in traffic fatalities on the Monday morning after Spring forward daylight saving! So, it’s not me just being silly – it’s a real thing!
Bottom line, listen to your body clock and understand that even an hour can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm. Prepare yourself for spring forward daylight saving by making a few simple lifestyle changes, and it might not mess you up.