I have winter blues, and my experience of it can be rather extreme, so for years I have been thrilled to get the sun back when spring comes, and Daylight Saving Time has always seemed to be a part of that, for me. But over the past year or so, I have been gradually realizing that the time change can be both a kiss and a kick...
Out of Sync
Moving our clocks in either direction changes the principal time cue -- light -- for setting and resetting our 24-hour natural cycle, or circadian rhythm. In doing so, our internal clock becomes out of sync or mismatched with our current day-night cycle. -WebMD
During the winter, part of my morning routine is trying to make myself get up and fiercely not wanting to, until it's late in the day. My evening routine includes wishing I could get myself to bed but not feeling sleepy, and wondering what the hour count will be for sleep by the time I finally get myself to bed.
My light box has transformed both routines, thank goodness, and made it possible to both to get up earlier and to go to bed at an earlier time. Even mealtimes are affected, because the earlier I eat my meals, the more my body conforms to a closer-to-normal schedule.
But gradually, I have been coming to realize that the time change to Daylight Saving Time creates a challenge for me, even as it also adds more sunlight to my day.
See if you are experiencing the same challenges, even if you don't have winter blues...
(1) Waking Up & Getting Up - feeling like it's the wrong time, or shouldn't/couldn't be the time it says it is on the clock and struggling now to get going, even if that time was working for you before.
I was already challenged to get up by 8am, but now 8am is really 7am and by body is still quite sure that that is way too early.
(2) Work or Morning Routine Tasks - it's time to start the day, but your body's engine is still cold.
You have things to do, and you start, but it's not working the way it should. You can't even depend on your thinking skills the way you normally do, and sometimes it feels like you are slowed down.
For me, it means setting a goal to leave the house to run an errand at a certain, and actually leaving hours later. Or having an appointment and being a few minutes late, when usually, I manage to get there early.
(3) Mealtimes - not being hungry when you should eat, which then affects the other meals and throws them off in your schedule.
Because I wake up slowly, and am more of night owl, I am not hungry right away. But I had a schedule going that worked for me, thanks to my light box.
Now, it has been pushed back an hour, so my morning tea is late, breakfast is late, lunch doesn't always happen and by dinner, I'm starving, but it's late, too. My schedule, even for eating, is off.
(4) Your Evening Routine - the wind-down period for bed begins later than it usually does.
When you work from home, it can be all too easy to always be working. And I have made an effort to bring my work to a close by dnnertime, or as soon after dinner as possible.
But this month, it is still light for hours after we eat dinner. And I don't feel the cues to begin to slow down, and let go of the work.
I find myself closing my laptop, trying to read and feeling bored (restless?), and then, getting it back out again to get online. So my evening routine is not quite working for me right now.
(5) Bedtime - you find yourself going to bed later than you usually do.
If I am trying to get to bed by 11pm, but at 11pm, my body knows it is still 10pm, I can understand why that becomes a struggle. But for some reason, it is even harder than that.
It is as if 11pm feels like 9, and I am still awake and alert hours later.
3 Suggestions If You're Still Adjusting
Experts say that if you're experiencing those challenges, too, they are normal reactions to the time change.
Daylight Saving Time affects your light cues, so they say that getting as much exposure to light as you can during the day will help you transition to the change in time. And avoiding bright light after dark may help you reset your clock at night, as well.
One article I read compared the time change to travel to different areas and trying to adjust to the differences in time. If you have been slow to adjust, as I have, it's only a matter of time (pun intended) before things get back to normal.
But increasing your cues around waking up and going to sleep may help you in the meantime. You may have to act against what feels natural, for a while, until it feels normal again.
Here are three suggestions for doing so...
(1) In the evening, turn off a lamp or two earlier than you normally would or use dimmer switches, closing the curtains and creating the sense of darkness closer to the time you are used to seeing it go dark.
(2) Create more bright light exposure in the morning to support getting up at what feels like an earlier time, and to help you adjust to an earlier need for alertness.
(3) For meals, I suggest eating smaller amounts at the regular times, so it helps you reset your eating schedule.
You may think of other ways to support the shift, too. For example, calming evening routines that help you wind down more easily, hours before bedtime.
Here's hoping we have all adjusted in time for the beauty of April flowers.
And for more tips and suggestions for your morning routine or evening routine, check out my free lifestyle library.
See you next time!