It’s coming! That time of year when we’ve got to change our clocks and adjust our schedules. If you dread that spring morning that cuts into your sleep time, you are not alone. Meant to help us get more out of our day, Daylight Saving Time is despised by many who wish to keep their circadian rhythm steady and their schedule consistent. While some areas in the world are fighting to do away with this outdated custom, many of us will have to continue to find ways to adjust along with the changing times.
What Is Daylight Saving Time?
Daylight Saving Time (DST) started out as a way to save energy during World War I. Back then, although there was electricity, many people still had to rely on the sun or candles to get their work done, so the idea was to “extend” the number of daylight hours. Many industries that supported war efforts relied on fuel and electricity that needed to be preserved, and DST was proposed as a way to reserve those precious resources.
In our modern times, many people are against this seasonal time adjustment, claiming that it really doesn’t save much energy. Since people rely on electricity more than ever, setting the clock forward an hour (meaning losing an hour of sleep) in the spring and back an hour in the fall doesn’t have that much effect on overall energy usage anymore. In fact, in some areas, it can even lead to an increase in energy consumption!
How Does DST Affect Sleep?
Many people are extra grumpy when this time shift occurs, and it’s true that changing your sleep cycle can lead to changes in your mood. Early morning sunshine is important to regulating the circadian rhythm, and this change results in it being darker when people get going to school or work. This means people don’t get as much sunlight when they first awaken, which can affect your inner clock.
DST has been linked to several health concerns, early morning car accidents, and increased sleep debt. In other words, people already getting less than the recommended amount of sleep get even less! All of that aside, many of us still have to make the transition whether we agree with it or not. So, to help you (and ourselves!) stay pleasant and well-rested, we’ve gathered a few tips for making this transition as smooth as possible.
Sleeping Tips for Daylight Saving Time
Start Adjusting Your Sleep Schedule in Advance
Get a head start. You don’t have to wait until the morning-of to make adjustments to your sleep schedule. You can start waking earlier in gradual amounts 1-2 weeks before the switch. Start setting your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier every couple of days to make a slower transition to rising earlier. You can even use that extra time to do something good for yourself. Get in a quick at-home yoga sesh, make a delightful breakfast, or do some journaling before you get your day started.
Establish a Consistent Sleep Routine
A routine does not have to be boring! Although some people are resistant to routines and like to live more spontaneously, a sleep routine helps your body to start shifting into relaxation mode. You can make it a reflection of your personality and find ways to uplift your spirit while calming your mind and body. It’s a way of sending gentle signals to your system that it’s time to quiet down and retreat into the warm and cozy realm and slumberland. This is a good way to incorporate a few self-care habits into your evening that may even help you generate a sense of fulfillment in your life path, so you can feel at peace with the way you spend your days.
Spend More Time Outside
It’s where we are meant to be. As many of us are entrenched in the modern lifestyle that doesn’t typically prioritize outside activities, we may need to make some extra effort to get outside as much as possible. Even if you wake up when it’s still dark, as soon as the sun is up, try to get outside and get a little sunshine in those early morning hours to help set your body’s internal clock.
Spending time outside is also a way to soothe and settle your nervous system. If you are feeling a little tired or on edge, try grounding. This practice is a simple and gentle way to attune your body to the earth’s magnetic field and holds the potential for many health benefits. Watching the sunset is also a great way to tune into cosmic daily rhythms and signal to your body the day is done and it’s time to slow down. Being outside and cultivating awareness of the seasonal changes in your environment connects you to the cycles of nature, not just a number on a clock. The timekeeper may rule our schedules, but it doesn’t have to rule the way we connect with the world around us.
Nap as Needed
When adjusting to any new schedule, a quick power nap can help your body get used to the change. Drifting off for 20-30 minutes or even just resting your eyes and nervous system can act like a bit of a reset button. This can promote alertness and help you restore focus if you feel a little spacey. Some experts recommend taking even longer naps so that you are able to reach the deep sleep phase, but that will depend on your schedule and how you respond. If it’s too long, it may interfere with your sleep at night. Don’t wait too close to bedtime to get your nap in, or it can be harder to get to sleep when it’s time to turn in.
Eliminate Caffeine Close to Bedtime
We’ve been experimenting with reducing our caffeine intake, and although we love a satisfying morning cup of coffee, we really do feel better without it. Luckily there are plenty of other ways to stay alert and focused and get you going in the morning. Reducing caffeine use can be a good idea any time of day, but keeping away from it in the late afternoon and evening can help you to get plenty of deep sleep so you can feel radiant when you awaken.
Although it clears the system in most people in about 5-6 hours, caffeine can still have an effect for up to 10-12 hours for some people. If you need a little afternoon pick-me-up, you could try a mushroom-infused coffee alternative, such as Beyond Brew, that can assist with focus and healthy energy but shouldn’t keep you up at night. Look for something with lion’s mane, chaga, and/or cordyceps to help you hold onto your energy without giving you the jitters.
Relax Before Bedtime
Finding tranquility can be difficult in our busy, fast-paced lives, but there are a lot of options to help you unwind. Reducing screen time, grounding, yin yoga, self-massage or acupressure, going for a walk, snuggling with pets, kids, or a partner, reading a good book, listening to soothing music, or drinking a relaxing cup of tea are all little things that add up to a calm state of mind. Meditating, even for just a few minutes, can make a huge difference in the way you feel and can promote quality sleep. If you struggle with meditation, try an app to help guide you.
We love ZenWell® to help us shift out of our hurried mind and into a serene mental space. Taken daily, it has tremendous long-term benefits that help to promote deep rest, and it can also help you maintain your energy throughout the day.
How to Build the Perfect Sleep Hygiene Routine
Sleep hygiene is basically the rituals and routines you set for yourself to encourage deep, restful sleep. Tuning into what helps you sleep deeply and awaken well-rested can be a transformative experience. Coming from a centered place when you rise each morning can truly change the way your life is lived.
It’s great to have set goals and a bit of a sleep-time schedule, but it’s also a good idea to work in a little room for flexibility, especially if you have children, pets, or a partner that will affect your routine. A good way to look at it is to have non-negotiable nightly needs and then have some other goals that you may only be able to accomplish a few nights a week at first until it begins to become a more established habit.
For example, some non-negotiables could be:
♦ take a bath
♦ brush your teeth
♦ make lunch for the next day
♦ light stretching or yin yoga practice
♦ write three things you are grateful for in your journal (while drinking a cup of chamomile tea)
♦ spritz an aromatherapy spray on your pillow
Some optional goals could be:
♦ prep overnight oats for the next day or gather ingredients for a quick breakfast smoothie
♦ go for an evening walk
♦ adopting a beauty routine (facial massage, using a jade roller, drinking collagen, hair oiling, etc.)
♦ practice grounding for 20 minutes
♦ turn off screens at sunset
♦ meditate for seven minutes
Waking up to Wellness
Sometimes life brings us circumstances we can’t avoid, but at least with Daylight Saving Time, you can be prepared in advance to make the adjustment and keep your daily routine as balanced as possible. Tuning into your own cycles and the rhythms of nature is one way to keep Daylight Saving Time from disrupting your flow too much. We all know that the first morning of the switch can be especially challenging, but Live Conscious® is here to help so you can live your best life and make each day great no matter what time it is.