Sleep

11 Tips to Help Your Body Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

Survive and thrive through the time change!

By: Lexy Parsons

In theory, a mere hour time change sounds like no biggie, right? I mean, it happens every year (twice a year, actually). Yet, without fail, adjusting the clocks with the seasons throws our body for a loop. The thing is, our body thrives on routine and consistency — it likes to maintain a certain degree of balance and homeostasis. And, it’s smart — it can detect even the slightest change. So, it makes sense that adjusting the clock — and thus disrupting our circadian rhythm (i.e., our sleep-wake cycle) — would do a number on our mind and body. Essentially, our body is jetlagged! You may notice increased feelings of fatigue, and grogginess, a change in mood and energy, and as you may expect, a disruption in sleep. 

The good news is that there are simple ways to prep your body for the seasonal transition so you can fall back with ease. Ahead, learn how to adjust to the end of daylight saving time 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? I thought we gained an hour of sleep during the fall? 

Well, for starters, most of us (a shocking 35% of American adults) are entering the seasonal time change already sleep-deprived. So although we gain an extra hour of sleep, we’re still working off a cumulative sleep debt. 

And because the time change disrupts our internal clock and shifts us out of balance, the extra hour can be just as harmful. These negative changes are largely due to changes in sunlight and, thus changes in our hormones (namely melatonin and serotonin). 

The takeaway? Turning the clock back means losing an hour of sunlight, losing an hour of sunlight means diminished melatonin and serotonin, and a reduction in these hormones means increased risk for symptoms such as fatigue. 

But, with simple hacks, learning how to adjust to the time change is easier than you think. Read on for all you need to know!

It’s Time to “Fall Back”: Try These 11 Tips to Help Your Body Adjust 

#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. While we technically gain an hour of sleep when we set our clocks back, any change in our sleep routine can leave us feeling groggy. So, consider picking a reasonable bedtime and keeping it consistent. This will help regulate your circadian rhythm and make the end of 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! Ideally, you want to absorb the benefits of the sun within 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.

If it’s still dark when you wake, try a light therapy device. It can help boost your mood and reduce the risk for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

#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.

Looking for a quick and easy breakfast? Try these Soft & Chewy Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola Bars! They’re easy to prep, simple to customize, and make the perfect on-the-go breakfast, snack, or post-workout refuel.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3 cups oats
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • ⅓ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Step #1: Add the honey, coconut oil, and almond butter to a pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and then stir in the cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt. Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, line a 9 X 9 pan with parchment paper.

Step #2: After 10-15 minutes, stir in the rolled oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, and dark chocolate chips.

Step #3: Use your hands to add the oat mixture to the pan. Use your hands to press the mixture down into the pan. You can also use another sheet of parchment paper to press down hard. Place in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours. Cut into 12 bars.

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. 

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.

#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 experts suggest it can actually boost energy! And when it comes to supporting sleep, embracing morning movement has shown to be especially beneficial. According to research, exercising in the morning may improve focus and productivity, and enhance energy. 

#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.

Fall Back With Ease

With a little preparation, set your clocks and fall back 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 daylight saving time, they will also benefit your sleep cycle year-round.