We are now a few days into the time change where we sprung ahead and lost an hour of sleep! Are you feeling it? Some individuals aren’t impacted by the time change at all, but others, like myself, are thrown off for at least a week! Did you know that the Monday after Daylight savings is associated with a 24% increase in heart attacks? Hello stress to the body!
Our bodies are on their own biological clock, called the circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are actually a series of internal variations in the body controlled by the brain that occur along a roughly 24-hour cycle. This is what helps you wake up in the morning and sleep at night. These rhythms are very sensitive to light as daylight turns on cortisol secretion to get you energized for the day and moonlight turns on melatonin to help you sleep. Your body is very much aligned with the timing of the sun and the moon; just like other animals in nature.
"It's not one hour twice a year. It's a misalignment of our biologic clocks for eight months of the year. When we talk about DST and the relationship to light, we are talking about profound impacts on the biological clock, which is a structure rooted in the brain. It impacts brain functions such as energy levels and alertness," ~ Beth Ann Malow, MD, Burry Chair in Cognitive Childhood Development, and professor of Neurology and Pediatrics in the Sleep Disorders Division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
When we change our human clocks and try to live according to that vs. nature, our biological clock can become out of whack. For instance, at the start of Daylight Savings Time, the mornings are darker for longer. This means that melatonin is active in your system for longer and can make you feel more tired and groggy in the morning. However, the opposite is true as well, the extended daylight delays melatonin which means it can be more difficult to fall asleep. This is why you naturally want to stay up later in the summer!
So while it’s ideal for us to honor our circadian rhythms and biological clock, we still live in this modern world and are following political requirements. Until a change is made towards a permanent daylight standard time, here are some tips to help you transition into the new time:
Be as consistent as possible with your eating, exercise, sleep and social activities throughout the week. This means going to bed and waking at the same time every day.
Prioritize daylight exposure to help reset your body's internal clock and support a healthy circadian rhythm. Getting morning light in your eyes within 30 minutes of waking will do wonders! If it’s dark when you wake up, use a daylight lamp. In the evening, enjoy the longer daylight hours and watch the sunset.
Avoid drinking caffeine after noon and if you’re a slow caffeine metabolizer, avoid drinking it past 10am.
Avoid eating 2-3 hours prior to bed. Humans aren’t designed to be eating late at night. By eating close to bed time, you’re disrupting your natural circadian rhythm.
Turn off screens and dim the house lights 1-2 hours prior to bed to signal your brain that it’s time for sleep. The darkness will tell your brain to secrete melatonin and drop cortisol levels.
Lastly, be gentle with yourself. If you’re extra sensitive to the time change, give yourself extra space in the upcoming days to rest and to go on gentle walks outside.
By choosing intentionally to consciously support your body in loving ways, you’ll be more resilient and able to adapt to life’s various stressors.
This blog post is for informational and educational purposes. It’s not meant to treat any health condition or to be prescriptive for anyone.
Always be sure to work with your healthcare practitioner before implementing new recommendations and/or supplements.