In theory, adjusting our clocks by a mere hour seems like no biggie, right? Yet, without fail, Daylight Saving time 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! However, our body thrives on routine and consistency. In fact, when our body is out of balance, it does everything in its power to bring us back to a state of homeostasis. Thus, even the slightest change in our sleep disrupts our circadian rhythm and dysregulates our body. 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 autumn transition so you can fall back with ease. Ahead, learn why Daylight Saving time affects our body and eleven tips that will help you survive and thrive this season!
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?
Despite the 55% of Americans that prioritize sleep health, most of us (a shocking 35% of American adults) enter 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 Maintain a Consistent Bedtime
To prepare your body for the end of daylight saving time, maintain a regular bedtime schedule. Since you gain an extra hour of sleep when the clocks “fall back,” consistency in your sleep routine will help regulate your circadian rhythm — try to pick a reasonable bedtime and keep it consistent!
#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). A great way to reduce fatigue and regulate our body during this transition.
Ideally, you’ll want to aim for a few minutes of sun within the first 10-15 minutes of waking.
- Grab a jacket and enjoy your cup of joe in nature
- Soak in the sunshine and fall foliage with a brisk morning walk
- Press play on a FitOn meditation while sitting in the sunshine
#4 Start the Day With a Comforting & Nourishing Fall 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 an extra hour of sleep and 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 to keep the momentum going. Thanks to complex carbs, protein, fiber, healthy fats, and energizing nutrients like B vitamins and iron, sustain all-day energy as the days get darker sooner.
And don’t forget about all the fall and winter superfoods! Foods like cauliflower, carrots, beets, cinnamon, and citrus are in season. Aside from their rich flavor, they’re bursting with nutrients that can help support immune health, energy, and digestion!
#6 Skip the Sugary Snacks
If you’re craving more sugar and hyper-palatable foods as the days get colder and darker, you’re not alone. In the midst of the holiday season, it’s normal to crave all the sweets and treats. However, too much sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and mood, further disturbing your sleep and energy.
Instead, 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 less sunlight and 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!
If you’re looking for a pick-me-up as the days get shorter and darker, try these all-natural energy boosters!
#8 Avoid Afternoon Naps
You might think you’re doing your body a favor by sneaking in a cozy afternoon snooze, but this could actually harm your sleep even more. While it might be tempting to curl up with a book and take a snooze on a dark afternoon, naps can disrupt your circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep at night.
If you’re feeling sleepy in the afternoon, try heading to bed earlier as you regulate your sleep hormones and build 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. However, this will differ from person to person. Find what works best for you and your schedule!
#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.
Support Your Body & Fall Back With Ease
With a little preparation, you can transition to the end of Daylight Saving time and adjust your clocks back with ease. Gradually adjust your sleep habits, incorporate nutrient-dense fall foods, avoid stimulants, and give your body some love with movement and mindfulness. Despite the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, these simple and effective tricks will help you stay energized and maintain a healthy sleep regime.