In theory, a mere hour time change sounds like no biggie, right? Yet, without fail, adjusting the clocks with the seasons throws our body for a loop. It happens every year (twice a year, actually), you’d think we’d have it figured out by now! The thing is, our body thrives on routine and consistency — it likes to maintain a certain degree of balance and homeostasis. And, to no surprise, our body is really smart. It can detect even the slightest change in our routines, including our sleep cycle. So, it makes sense that adjusting the clock — and thus disrupting our circadian rhythm — would throw us for a loop. Think of it like this: essentially, our body is jetlagged! Just as you would if you were traveling to another time zone, you may notice increased feelings of fatigue or grogginess, a change in mood or energy, and yes, a disruption in sleep.
The good news is that there are simple ways to prep your body for the seasonal Spring transition so you can leap forward with ease. Ahead, learn how to adjust to daylight saving times with eleven tips and tricks that will help you survive and *thrive* through the time change!
Why Daylight Saving Time Affects Our Body
But first, you may be wondering, why does Daylight saving time affect us so much in the first place? It’s just one hour — does it really impact our sleep?
Well, for starters, most of us (a shocking 35% of American adults) are entering the seasonal time change already sleep-deprived. Not to mention the 50 to 70 million Americans affected by sleep-related problems. So although ‘it’s just an hour,’ it makes a big difference — we’re still working off a cumulative sleep debt.
Plus, the time change disrupts our internal clock and shifts us out of balance, causing a dysregulation of our sleep hormones (namely, melatonin and serotonin).
The good news? With simple hacks, learning how to adjust to the time change is easier than you think. Read on for all you need to know!
11 Hacks to Combat Daylight Saving Time Fatigue
#1 Go to Bed at The Same Time Each Night
Prep your body for the time change by going to bed at a consistent time. Considering we lose an hour of sleep when we set our clocks forward, any additional change in our sleep routine can leave us feeling extra groggy. So, consider picking a reasonable bedtime and keeping it consistent. This will help regulate your circadian rhythm and make the daylight savings time transition easier!
#2 Get A Head Start On the Day
While we’re on the topic of sleep schedules, try waking up at the same time each morning too! And, if you want to get up a tad earlier than usual, you can get a head start on your day. According to research, early risers are more energized, productive, and tend to have healthier morning habits like eating a nutritious breakfast or squeezing in a sweat. And, since morning people have extra time to spare, they tend to be less stressed. So, consider using the time change as a way to revamp your sleep and morning routine to work for you!
#3 Embrace the Morning Sunshine
Speaking of mornings, embrace the morning sunshine! Exposure to morning sunlight helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle by increasing cortisol (the hormone that makes us feel alert and energized) and suppressing melatonin (the hormone that makes us feel sleepy). If you’re not a morning person, give this sunshine soak a try — all you really need is 10 minutes of sun!
Ideally, you’ll want to do this within the first 10-15 minutes of waking.
Some ideas? Enjoy your cup of joe in nature, go for a brisk morning walk, or press play on a FitOn meditation while sitting in the sunshine.
#4 Kickstart the Day with a Nutritious Breakfast
Your morning meal can have a serious impact on your day. Just as the light impacts our circadian rhythm, evidence suggests meal timing can do the same! According to research, long-term breakfast skipping can dysregulate our circadian clock and even affect lipid metabolism. To prevent this, try kicking off your morning with a nutrient-dense breakfast! You’ll boost energy, regulate blood sugar, and send a signal to your brain telling it that it’s time to start the day.
For more breakfast inspiration, give these on-the-go options a try!
#5 Load Up On Energizing Whole Foods
You started off strong with a nourishing breakfast, so why not keep that energy flowing throughout the day? Fill your diet with nutrient-dense whole foods like dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, salmon, berries, and sweet potatoes. They’re loaded with energizing nutrients like B vitamins and iron to help you power through your day!
Plus, a balanced diet full of complex carbs, protein, fiber, and healthy fats is key when it comes to maintaining your energy. And don’t forget about all the fresh, seasonal Spring picks! Foods like berries, carrots, broccoli, and celery are in season, meaning they’re bursting with flavor and nutrients!
RELATED: Always Tired? Your Diet May Be Missing These Nutrients
#6 Skip the Sugary Snacks & Opt For Balance Instead
Ever notice an increased craving for sugar and hyper-palatable foods when you’re sleep deprived? When you skimp on sleep, your body tries to compensate by obtaining energy through your diet. But, as tempting as they may be, sugary snacks won’t improve your energy or your mood! Yes, you may feel an initial burst of energy as sugar floods your body, but be prepared for the energy crash that’s soon to follow. And in addition to wreaking havoc on your blood sugar and mood, sugary foods are associated with sleep disturbances and poor sleep quality.
Try to keep your snacks balanced with a combo of healthy fats, satiating protein, and fiber. This will help regulate your energy and balance your blood sugar as you adjust to a new sleep schedule!
Here are some ideas:
- Greek or coconut yogurt with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds.
- Hard-boiled eggs served with mashed avocado and grain-free crackers or rice cakes.
- Raw or roasted veggies dipped in hummus, guac, or a Greek yogurt-based dip.
- Meal-prep chia pudding topped with fresh fruit and nut butter
#7 Keep Caffeine for the A.M.
If you’re looking for an afternoon energy booster, a mid-day cup of coffee or matcha is not the answer! We’re not saying you have to cut caffeine out of your routine, but keep these beverages for the morning. Why? Because caffeine has a half-life of about 5 hours, meaning it can seriously affect your sleep cycle. You’ll feel a peak energy boost within 30-60 minutes, but it remains in your system for about 5 hours!
Struggling to quit the caffeine? Try these all-natural energy boosters!
#8 Avoid Afternoon Naps
You might think you’re doing your body a favor by sneaking in an afternoon snooze to compensate for the loss of sleep, but this could actually harm your sleep even more. Afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night, further dysregulating your circadian rhythm. Instead, try adjusting your bedtime and wake-up time (like we mentioned in tips 1 and 2) to help regulate your sleep hormones and secure a solid sleep routine.
#9 Break a Sweat
Moving your body might be the last thing on your to-do list if you’re feeling tired, but research suggests movement can actually boost energy (and mood)! So, when it comes to supporting sleep, embracing morning movement has shown to be especially beneficial.
As for the best time of day to work out? According to research, exercising in the morning may improve focus and productivity, enhance energy, and promote healthier decisions throughout the day.
#10 Avoid Late-Night Screen Time
If you’re trying to regulate your circadian rhythm, try keeping your evenings tech-free. The blue light from your screens (whether it be your TV, phone, or computer) keeps your body in a state of high alert by suppressing melatonin production. Essentially, blue light tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime! Clearly, this can lead to some sleepless nights. Try limiting your screen use 2 hours before bed and leaving all electronics outside of your room.
#11 Bust Some Stress
This is one of our key tips when it comes to surviving the transitionary period of daylight saving time! Stress is one of the leading causes of sleep disturbances, so incorporating stress-busting techniques like meditation, journaling, and breathing exercises can do wonders for your sleep.
Give yourself some extra TLC with a self-care-centric evening routine. Wind down your evening with a calming yoga flow, a lavender-infused Epsom salt bath, or a warming cup of tea.
Spring Forward with Ease
With a little preparation, adjust your clocks and spring forward with ease. Gradually adjusting your sleep habits, incorporating nutrient-dense foods, avoiding stimulants, and giving your body some love with movement and mindfulness are simple and effective tricks. While it may take a little adjusting, use these tips to avoid disrupting your sleep! And while these healthy habits will certainly help you adjust during Spring Daylight Saving time, they will also benefit your sleep cycle year-round.