The time change from daylight savings to standard time is coming up on Nov. 3, when we gain an hour. It always sounds great at first, but then we remember that evenings seem to come much faster, and light streams in our bedroom windows a little on the early side. It may only be an hour, but it can have a huge impact when you consider how much our bodies are affected by light.
Although studies show that the spring time change is a little more difficult on our bodies, going from daylight savings time to standard time still isn’t an easy adjustment.
How the time change affects your health
Our bodies (and minds, for that matter) crave routine. While we’re supposed to be getting an extra hour of sleep, the disruption of our circadian rhythm can be detrimental. Studies show that a good night’s sleep is necessary for optimal functioning of all our systems. A good night’s sleep has a profound affect on the brain, helping us to retain information and be more productive. Without it, and especially with a sudden change as will happen on Nov. 3, the incidence of stroke, heart attack, depression and even fatal road accidents goes up.
How to prepare your body for the time change
There are a number of coping mechanisms for ensuring the time change affects you as little as possible. One that most doctors agree on is making sure to continue your exercise routine. Exercise releases natural hormones that can keep time change-related depression at bay.
Sleep specialists also suggest preparing yourself by slowly adjusting the time you go to bed for a period of days before the time change. Start by moving your bedtime by 15 to 30 minutes with the hope that once standard time is here, it’ll be an easier transition.
Also, take advantage of the extra light in the morning! Instead of groggily making your way to the bathroom to start your daily routine, bask in the sunlight coming through open blinds for just a couple of minutes. The effect of light exposure is a positive one.
Other suggestions include: drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and caffeine for a handful of hours prior to bed and resist the urge to take naps in the days following the time change.
The move back to standard time doesn’t have to control you; follow these steps to minimize the impact and stay in tip-top shape. Did you know that we also “treat” patients who are healthy and want to stay that way? About half of our patients fit this description! Go to our website to learn how even the healthy can benefit from our wellness and prevention therapies.