How to Adjust to Daylight Savings Time

March 14, 2022

Reading Time: 9 minutes

How to Adjust to Daylight Savings Time

Can we all agree that the time change is the worst? Whether we’re springing forward or falling backward, or simply traveling across time zones – being thrown off our internal clocks is a recipe for nodding off in morning meetings and being wide awake when it’s time for sleep.

Today’s episode is all about adjusting to the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. Honestly – it’s about adjusting to ANY time change. Maybe you’re doing some travel across time zones, maybe you’re finding this episode in the fall and we’ve gained an hour – or maybe you’re like me and you’re just trying to adjust to springing forward.

As this episode goes live, it’s Monday March 14, and yesterday in the US – well most of the US – we moved our clocks forward one hour to mark the beginning of daylight savings time. As a result, there will likely be an increase in traffic accidents, heart attacks and mood disorder issues. Sorry to kick off this episode by being a Debbie Downer, but it’s the truth. 

Just a one hour shift in time an throw off our internal body clocks in a big way. And somehow – even though Spring Forward has been a thing my entire life, it absolutely snuck up on me this year. Usually all of the tips around preparing for a time change involve changing your bedtime or wake times a few days leading up to the clock switch, but that ship has already sailed. For me at least. 

So, in today’s new episode of It’s About Time, you’ll find whether you’re listening right after “Spring Forward” as this episode is going live, or you’re finding it in the fall and you’ve gained an hour – the tips are pretty universal. 

So today, we’re talking about

  • Why our bodies get so thrown off with a time change
  • 3 simple ways to help yourself adjust – even if you forgot to prep in advance
  • Why you shouldn’t reach for an extra cup of coffee to keep yourself awake
  • And finally, I’m diving into sleep hygiene. What is it, and why is it so important.

Also – big news for my Baton Rouge friends!

If you’re an It’s About Time fan within driving distance to Baton Rouge, Louisiana you’re going to want to listen up.

Are you ready for a refresh on 2022? A do-over. A reset? 

What if you could hit the reset button on your diet, your time and your messy house in just one afternoon – while sipping mimosas with friends?

Well – you’re invited to hit the reset button with ME on Sunday, March 27 at The Spring Reset in Baton Rouge.

The Spring Reset is an exclusive, popup lifestyle workshop I’m hosting alongside Sara Landry West of South Coast Organizers – you might remember Sara from Episode 73 – and Kylee Arnold of Arnold Nutrition Coaching. We’ll be sharing our secrets for managing your time, getting your house in order, and revamping your nutrition.

First, we’ll get settled in with bubbly mimosas and brunch nibbles. Then, we’ll workshop it up. Did I mention that all of this is happening at Red Stick Spice Company? That means we’ll get to watch one of their amazing culinary instructors whip up shrimp & grits before we savor a delicious scones and hot tea. 

Think of The Spring Reset as “brunch with your besties” meets “being your best self.” 

If you need a spring reset, Click Here to grab your seat. You can also find the link in the shownotes. There are only 20 seats available, and they’re going fast. If you’re in or near Baton Rouge, I’d love to see you there!

I think we can all agree that daylight savings time is the worst.

We’re going about our day to day lives when all of a sudden we’re supposed to just change the clocks as if it’s no big deal. 

The truth is – it is a big deal. As I mentioned at the start of this episode, losing an hour each spring has some pretty serious repercussions. There’s an uptick in traffic accidents, it affects our mood and there’s even an increase in heart attacks.

And if you’re curious about what the stats are around falling back in the fall, it’s actually the opposite. The first Monday after the time change, there are fewer accidents and a decrease in heart attacks. 

What’s really amazing to me is how just ONE hour can make all the difference. A ONE hour shift in your sleep schedule can have some pretty far reaching effects. Just ask any parent of a newborn, baby or even a toddler who is waking during the night. The struggle is real.

So before we get into the how to’s for readjusting our internal clocks, I think it’s important for us to first understand why we get thrown for such a loop when the time changes – or when we travel across time zones.

Let’s start with Daylight Savings Time. In a nutshell, the idea behind DST is to make the most of natural daylight. Spring, summer and early fall days typically get dark later in the evening compared to late fall and winter days.

You know, like in December when it basically feels like midnight at 4PM. 

Germany and Austria were the first countries to implement daylight savings in 1916, but a city in Canada was actually the first in 1908. A New Zealand scientist came up with the idea in 1895.

The idea is that if we shifted our clocks to have more daylight, then people would use less electricity. But we’d only shift our clocks during the summer so farmers wouldn’t have to wake up and farm in the dark. 

So that’s interesting – because I actually thought that daylight savings was created for the farmers, but it was actually created to save electricity – but we only “save daylight” from March until November so they don’t have to farm in the dark. Okay…

Anyway – now that we’ve got that fun history lesson out of the way, let’s talk about the effect it has on all of us.

Long story short – we’re in such a funk after we spring forward because we don’t get enough sleep. Yes, even if it’s just a night or two. 

I’ve already mentioned the traffic accidents and heart attacks that can occur as a result of less sleep, but having even one night of not getting enough sleep (and if you’re curious, “enough” is 7-9 hours on average for adults) can make you feel hungrier than usual, it can decrease your focus, make you more likely to catch a cold and hurt your productivity.

Yikes. That’s a lot. And it can have quite a ripple effect.

So a lot of advice around adjusting to the start of daylight savings time involves tweaking your sleeping and waking times leading up to the shift. You can start going to bed 15 minutes earlier every night for 4 nights leading up to the time change. If you have kids with sleeping schedules, you can start adjusting their schedules too so the time change is less jarring for them. 

But what if you totally missed that boat already like I did?

Here are three simple ways to help your body adjust to losing an hour to daylight savings time, and a lot of these tips can apply to travel across time zones, too.

01: Go outside. Especially in the morning.

Natural light is a driving force behind our internal clocks – also known as our circadian rhythm. Getting some sun in the morning can help us feel more alert when we haven’t gotten enough sleep. If you work from home, you might not have a commute that gets you out the door and into the sunshine, so consider going for a walk, driving to pick up a coffee or running an errand, or if the weather isn’t great – just open your front door and stand there for a bit to take in some of the natural light. Even if it’s gloomy, you can still get some of the benefits of natural light exposure.

Here’s the science behind it: natural light suppresses melatonin, and melatonin is the hormone that’s released in the evening that helps us feel tired and ready for bed. So – natural light can serve almost like a dam that holds back the melatonin from spilling out too soon. 

So – head outside. Get some sunlight. There’s a funny meme I came across recently that said, “Drink Water. Get Sunlight. You’re basically a plant with more complicated emotions.”

And speaking of water, that brings me to the second tip for helping yourself adjust.

02: Watch the coffee, or the Diet Coke or whatever your caffeine of choice is.

And if you don’t do caffeine, then that’s awesome. Just make sure to drink water, since being hydrated can fight fatigue.

BUT! If you, like me, are a big fan of coffee, I’m going to encourage you to stick with your usual coffee order. When we wake up after a night of not-so-great sleep, it can be super tempting to get a venti instead of your usual grande, or add in an extra shot. 

The problem is your body isn’t used to the extra caffeine, and there’s a really big possibility that instead of feeling alert and awake, instead you’ll just feel hyped up and jittery. There’s a law of diminishing returns when it comes to caffeination and if you accidentally overdo it and cross the line, it’s nearly impossible to focus.

Plus, coffee is dehydrating, and dehydration can cause fatigue. So stick to your usual and ask for a cup of ice water with your order. Like I mentioned a second ago, being hydrated helps fight fatigue, and plus – getting up to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes when you’re drinking tons of water is another great way to stay awake and get your steps in!

Last thing I want to mention here on the topic of caffeine is that studies have shown that when you drink caffeine within 6 hours of your bedtime, it can disrupt your sleep cycle. So I encourage you to set a caffeine deadline for yourself and stick to it. Six hours before bedtime is a good place to start, but you might find that you need to limit caffeine earlier in the day. I know that my sweet spot is right around 2:00 to 2:15, and I never start a cup of coffee after 3PM if I want to get a good night’s sleep. 

03: Take a power nap.

But first, let me define a power nap, or a quick nap. Or a cat nap. 

20 minutes or less. That’s it. We’re not talking about getting cozy under the covers for a 2 hour long sleep session in the middle of the afternoon. You’re almost always going to wake up feeling groggy if you go that route.

Instead, if you’ve got some space between meetings and the afternoon slump is feeling even slumpier than usual, try this: 

Set an alarm for 25 minutes. Supposedly it takes an average of 7 minutes to fall asleep, which I think is BS because it always takes me WAY longer to fall asleep than 7 minutes – but anyway, set an alarm for 25 minutes. Close your eyes. And when the alarm goes off – get up. 

And even though in step 2 I told you not to overdo it on the coffee, I’m going to add in another step to this power nap if you’re game.

To really take a next level power nap, called a “nappuccino,” drink a cup of coffee then set your alarm for 25 minutes and close your eyes. I learned about this Daniel Pink’s book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. So it takes approximately 7 minutes to fall asleep, and the ideal nap is about 20 minutes long to have you wake up feeling refreshed. Plus it takes caffeine about 25 minutes to kick in. So it’s a double whammy. 

You wake up feeling refreshed from the nap and alert from the coffee. 

While these three tips are helpful for adjusting to time change, they’re no substitute for having good sleep hygiene in general.

What exactly is sleep hygiene? 

When I hear the word hygiene, I always think of the dentist’s office, so we’ll use that as a comparison.

Having good dental hygiene involves brushing your teeth daily, flossing, and getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist’s office twice a year. When you practice good dental hygiene, you’re helping take care of your teeth for the long term. 

So let’s think about what sleep hygiene is then. Sleep hygiene includes the actions you can take to improve your sleep. That includes things that help you go to sleep, stay asleep and sleep soundless. Examples include: 

  • Limited caffeine before bed (I mentioned that one earlier)
  • Limiting alcohol before bed
  • Not exercising within 2 hours of going to bed 
  • Creating calming rituals that help you relax and transition to sleep
  • Creating an environment that supports good sleep – that could include using blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block incoming light, using a sound machine, keeping your room cool or even getting a new mattress.

When you practice good sleep hygiene on a regular basis, such as by having a consistent bedtime routine – when things like daylight savings time or travel across time zones happen, you’ve got a plan to fall back on, and you know yourself and your circadian rhythm well enough to bounce back quickly.

So there you have it.

Adjusting to the time change is rough, but there are a few simple things you can do to help yourself make the switch – even if you weren’t able to prep before hand. 

By getting some sunlight, sticking to your usual caffeine routine, and taking a power nap – you can help yourself stay a bit more alert despite a shorter night’s sleep. And finally – remember that while these tips can help you adjust to the time change, they’re no substitute for practicing good sleep hygiene on a regular basis. 

I’d love to know if you have any sleep tips. Do you use a sleep mask? Do you have a go-to sound machine? Head over to the It’s About Time podcast community on Facebook and let us know!

One more reminder – don’t forget to grab your seat to The Spring Reset on March 27th in Baton Rouge. Think brunch with your besties meets being your best self. 

And lastly, before you go, let me tell you a little bit about next week’s episode – Episode 117. 

This week we talked about adjusting to the time change and what it means to have good sleep hygiene. Next week we’re shifting gears from nighttime to morning – and we’ll dive into whether it’s possible to become a morning person! Can’t wait to dive into this frequently asked question with you, so be sure to tune in!

Links & Resources Mentioned in Episode 116

What will it take you to get from chaos to calm?

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