The summer has come to a close, and soon we’ll find ourselves dealing with Daylight Savings Time.
I was always taught that autumn, or “fall”, is the time for “falling back”. While a helpful mnemonic, I find it interesting to consider the language.
What is implied by “falling back”? I’m reminded of a 12 year old me, when my bestie and I tested trust by “falling back” into each others’ arms. This interpretation of “falling back” is essentially, a surrendering.
But as you might expect, the daylight savings time adjustment can be a stressor on the mind-body system. This is partly because it up-ends the rhythms we’ve established to this point. Such stress is also part of the reason why the number of heart attacks and strokes can increase during this transitional time.
How can we transition with more grace? Apart from the usual advice, here are a few, more novel tips.
1. Don’t wait for Daylight Savings Time to arrive.
Don’t wait until the night before to make the full, one-hour adjustment. Instead, ease into the change in 15-minute increments, over the course of several weeks, if possible. (If not, even a few days could be helpful.)
2. Take special care of yourself for at least 3 days following the time change.
Expect that your body may not be as energetic, your mind may not be as alert. Build a few more rest breaks into your day, and defer important decisions until the following week if possible. Carefully consider the pros & cons of napping.
3. Don’t worry so much about it.
Worry, stress, and anxiety are stealers of healthy sleep. Since seasonal time changes happen two times a year, they can feel like a big event. But, we often travel to places in other time zones (sometimes with bigger gaps than an hour!). Look at DST as you would a bout of jet lag, no more, no less.
4. Understand that working against nature is harder.
It’s easy to wonder “what’s wrong with me?” when your mind-body system doesn’t have the energy you’d like it to. Barring any medical reasons for it, the transition into winter is naturally a time of hunkering down more, doing less. Historically, less light meant less activity. Take the crisp falling leaves as your example–find something energy-draining to release, and better align yourself with nature.
5. Establish a wake & sleep rhythm that’s time-independent.
If you have the flexibility, establish a pattern whereby you rise with the sun, regardless of clock-time. Such a rise time usually means also likely transitioning to sleep earlier than you might be accustomed to. This is a longer-term suggestion, but one that might save you from the yearly ups-and-downs these clock changes bring.
Do you have a favorite tip to share? Comment and let me know.
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➞ Join the Sleep Academy, designed specifically for stressed out insomniacs with anxious minds.
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