An hour matters more than you think…
When Daylight Saving Time hits in November, we initially bask in the glory that is an extra free hour of sleep on Sunday morning. But after those 60 minutes come and go, we’re left feeling pretty out of whack with nature’s new schedule. An hour might not seem super disruptive, but when it comes to your sleep cycle, your body very much appreciates its routine. So give these six tips a try after the time shift to feel like the best version of you all winter long.
1. Stick to the clock.
When you “fall back,” it’s usually not that difficult to feel sleepy enough to head to bed at your usual time because it feels like it’s an hour later than it actually is, but do follow the numbers on that clock rather than giving in to the temptation to stay up for another episode of your latest TV binge. And if you end up rousing a little bit before your alarm clock, embrace the natural wake-up call (and the fact that you aren’t tempted by the snooze button) and get a jump start on your day.
2. Take advantage of the earlier sunrise while you have it.
If you’re someone who has a hard time getting moving before dawn, your mornings just got a lot easier. So enjoy it! Go ahead and sign up for that workout class or make plans with your running buddy that you know you’ll actually want to keep because it won’t be desperately dark and cold outside at 7 a.m… at least until winter officially arrives. Plus, by exercising in the morning before heading to work, you’re guaranteeing that it gets done and helping your body feel more tired and ready for bed when the evening rolls around.
3. Get outside during your lunch break.
Following Daylight Saving Time in the fall, the hardest adjustment comes from the days generally growing shorter and you lacking sunlight exposure. So since the sun will soon set before you even leave the office, make a point to go for a stroll outside during your lunch hour so you can soak up those rays, increase your natural energy levels, boost your afternoon productivity at the office and even raise your vitamin D levels.
4. Up the vitamin D in your diet.
Speaking of vitamin D, those lunch walks don’t always give your body the sun exposure it needs to create enough of this important nutrient, which can leave you feeling pretty lethargic throughout the winter months. So lean into more vitamin D-rich foods — fatty fish like tuna and salmon, eggs and cheese — to help balance out the darker days. And if you follow a plant-based diet, reach for a simple vitamin D supplement (no more than 100 percent of your daily recommended value) at the pharmacy instead.
5. Be mindful of your screen time.
As you wind down at the end of the day, avoid activities that will prevent your body from naturally slowing down and reaching its sleepy state. For instance, the blue light that emanates from your cell phone, television, tablet and more tends to disrupt your brain’s melatonin production, ultimately hindering your natural, healthy sleep cycle. So an hour before bedtime, leave your phone to charge in the living room and hop in bed with a good book.
6. Watch the sugar before bedtime.
Sugar is another major sleep disruptor because it tells your digestive system to jump into overdrive rather than relax for the night, and the sugar high that ensues is the opposite of soothing. So limit the alcohol, desserts and refined carbs that come in most junk food forms to a couple of hours before you plan to sleep so you can indulge a little and still sleep like a baby when the time comes.