Anissa Bell, LMFT
Clarity on the time change: Quick tips for "falling back", sleeping, and staying healthy.
Updated: May 19, 2020
Here we go again! It's that time of year when we fall asleep on a Saturday night and wake up on Sunday, trying to convince ourselves to believe the time on the clock versus our internal, very fine-tuned body clock. A lot of feelings come up when Daylight Saving Time ends and there are some pros and cons to this upcoming Sunday's time change. It will be lighter outside when you wake up in the morning - for most this is a pro. It will be darker much earlier in the evening - for most this is a con. You gain an extra hour of sleep Saturday night - many view this as a pro, but it can often be a con because it changes your normal sleep duration. Our bodies love and crave routine and sleep is very hard to regulate for many people. The last thing we need is a catalyst to cause more sleep disturbance.
During the fall time change, we gain an hour of time in the early Sunday morning hours. At 2:00am on Sunday, November 3rd, it will magically now become 1:00am. . Here are a few tips for managing the "fall back" this weekend:
1) START ADJUSTING YOUR SLEEP TIMES NOW.
Beginning Sunday, you will actually be going to bed and waking up one hour later than you did before. The clock next to the bed or on your wrist will say it's your usual bedtime or wake time, but your internal clock will tell you something different. Your body will need some time to re-program. To prepare for this, you can start making some adjustments the days prior to the change. Try delaying your bedtime and wake time a few minutes later each night/morning so that you can gradually adapt to the hour change.
2) STAY ON THE SAME SCHEDULE AND MAXIMIZE YOUR TIME.
Instead of adjusting your internal body clock, adjust your bedtime and wake-up times to match the hour time difference. Go to bed one hour earlier (which will actually be your old bedtime) and wake up one hour earlier (your old wake time). You will be on the same internal clock and you can utilize that extra hour in the morning for self-care. Go to the gym, meditate, take a morning walk with your dog, or make a healthy home-cooked breakfast!
3) AVOID EXCESS CAFFEINE TO COMPENSATE.
If you are struggling during the first week or two of this time change, you may be tempted to add some extra caffeine into the mix to get through the day. Your body is already challenged by this adjustment. Try to avoid other changes in your daily routine, which includes excess caffeine that may stimulate you and cause even more sleep difficulty.
4) ADD SOME EXTRA SUNSHINE INTO YOUR DAY.
The end of Daylight Saving Time can also mean less access to the sun. Be more intentional in your efforts to go outside, get some Vitamin D, and soak in a little sunshine and fresh air to help lift your mood. Changes in sleep and circadian rhythm are already disruptive to our mood, so the reduction in beneficial daylight does not help. Utilize your lunch hour to go for a walk outside and get that daylight hour back!
5) GIVE YOUR BODY HEALTHY FUEL.
With schedules already thrown off by shifts in sleep and daylight hours, it's really easy for everything to get thrown off. Meal times may also be confusing because our body clocks are on the old feeding schedule. Take time to prepare snacks to nourish and sustain you between meals. This is good practice in general, but particularly helpful following the time change. Avoid the temptation to self-medicate with substances to help you sleep. This may be counterproductive and actually cause sleep problems!
Be extra kind to your body for the next few weeks. Practice good self-care heading into the weekend and for the days that follow the new adjustment to the clock. Your body is resilient and will re-program itself just like it did in the Spring. Following these tips can give you some extra support!