6 Hacks to Help You Navigate the Time Change
Say hello to winter. Daylight Saving Time is coming to an end in the wee hours of the morning on November 6. Here are six tips to help you cope with the time shift this month, as well as the one next spring:
1. START PREPPING EARLY.
In general, keeping a consistent sleep schedule will help you sleep more deeply and wake up more easily. Experts recommend that when trying to adjust your sleep schedule, you start very slowly, getting up 15 minutes earlier each day. As much as you can manage, a few days before the time is set to change, shift your bedtime and wake-up time by 15 minutes. So go to bed 15 minutes later and wake up 15 minutes later in the fall, and when spring rolls around, go to bed and wake up a little earlier.
2. PAMPER YOURSELF.
When the time changes, your body doesn’t necessarily get with the program immediately. If you find yourself unusually sleepy at 9 p.m. on November 6, listen to your body, rather than the clock. The CDC reports that a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep, so it’s likely that you need that extra hour or two anyway. If your problem is that you can’t get to sleep at night, though, retool your evenings to be more restful. Don’t eat junk food or exercise too close to bedtime, and find a way to relax without the bright glare of electronics—read a book or take a bath instead.
3. AVOID ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE.
When traveling across time zones, experts recommend staying away from alcohol, which can affect your sleep quality. The same goes for the time change. Similarly, you should avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. Both of these will help you get better sleep overall, helping you deal with sudden shifts like time changes or international plane rides.
4. EMBRACE SUNRISE.
On November 6, the sun will rise around 6:30 a.m., compared to 7:30 a.m. the day before. If you’re particularly sensitive to light in the mornings, this may mean you’re stuck waking up much earlier than you planned. You may not be happy about it that first day, but open up your blinds anyway. Your body is designed to wake up in response to natural light—sunlight reduces melatonin production, making you more alert—so embrace the change and do something productive with that extra hour. In turn, your new wake-up schedule will make it easier to fall asleep earlier, too.
5. HIT THE GYM.
Exercise can help regulate the body’s internal clock, so in response to the shifting clock, you should kickstart your workout plan. Use that earlier sunrise to get in a morning run. In a 2011 study, volunteers who exercised at 7 a.m. spent 75 percent more time in the deep sleep cycle than volunteers who exercised at other times. The morning workout also led to lower blood pressure levels. Getting a workout in during the morning will also help you stay energized throughout the day, even when it starts getting dark at 4 p.m.
6. USE AN ARTIFICIAL LIGHT.
Even during the shortest of days, you can use artificial light to make sure your body is ready to wake up and fall asleep at the appropriate times. A 2016 study found that short flashes of light (like camera flashes) during sleep can help re-set the body’s circadian rhythm, allowing people to combat jet lag while traveling across time zones. The research is still in the early phases, though one company already sells a jet-lag eye mask that exposes the wearer to quick bursts of light during sleep.
If you’d rather try something a little more user-friendly, consider a light box. Light therapy is a long-established treatment for insomnia and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and involves sitting near a bright lamp that mimics natural light at specific times during the day in order to reset your body’s internal clock. There’s even an app that will tell you when your body needs to be exposed to bright light versus darkness while shifting time zones (or adjusting clocks).