Mar. 5, 2018In just a few days, we’ll be springing forward towards a new season — or at least taking the first step towards celebrating the arrival of spring by setting our clocks forward by one hour. For many, especially those living in darker, northeastern climates, the arrival of Daylight Savings Time couldn’t come soon enough after a long winter of too-short days. But regardless of whether you live on the sun-soaked west coast or wintery east coast, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone complaining about an extra hour of daylight.
But as much as that extra hour is a welcome change from winter — it’s not always easy for your body to adjust. A measly 60 minutes may not sound like much — but to your body and sleep-wake cycle, the shift is significant. Thankfully, with the right preparation and mindset, adjusting to Daylight Savings Time can not only be easy, but a welcome moment for self-care as you prep your body for the upcoming change in seasons.
The History Behind Daylight Savings
But first, have you ever wondered why we observe Daylight Savings Time in the first place? Also called ‘Summer Time’ in other parts of the world, Daylight Savings Time was first introduced in 1908 in Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay), Canada as a way to make better use of the longer days of spring and summer. While many are quick to credit Benjamin Franklin with the idea, Canada, Germany and Austria were at the forefront of turning the clocks. Today, about 40% of countries observe the twice-a-year shift in time — Daylight Savings in the spring and the switch back to Standard Time in the fall — and while that low number may surprise you, what may surprise you more is the fact that not every American state observes the change.
In fact, most of Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands bow out of the idea, and only recently did Indiana join the ranks of DST observers (does it count as time travel if you visit one of these locales?).
While most of us may no longer be using that extra hour to tend to crops, the shift of one hour coupled with longer days is the perfect time to make use of a bit more sunlight. It’s no coincidence that Daylight Savings Time always falls on a Sunday, it was strategically planned this way to make the change as seamless as possible, with the official switch taking place between 2 and 3am. Still, it’s not always easy to lose an hour of sleep (ask anyone who’s ever been jet lagged). To help your body adjust to your new schedule, try the tips below.
Get a Head Start
While the official date of Daylight Savings Time may still be a few days away, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a head start. Instead of sticking with your regular schedule, begin turning in and waking up a few minutes earlier every night in the days leading up to changing your clocks. Begin by going to sleep and waking up just 10 minutes earlier, then continue to adjust your sleep-wake times by 10-15 minutes every night and morning as Daylight Savings Time approaches. This strategy will lessen the shock to your system so you’re less likely to feel sluggish and overtired in the days following the switch, allowing your sleep-wake cycle ample time to gently adjust.
Go Easy on Caffeine (and Alcohol)
We all know too much coffee can mess with our ability to get a restful night’s sleep, and the same goes for alcohol. While many tend to believe that alcohol has a sedative effect, and while that glass of red wine before bed may make you feel sleepy, ultimately it can prevent you from getting the restorative, deep sleep your body needs.
As Daylight Savings Time approaches, ease up on the caffeinated drinks after 2pm, and hold off on that nightly glass of red, too, to ensure you’re getting enough Z’s. When you wake, try adding stress-busting adaptogens to your morning potion to support your body and cut down on those coffee jitters. This is also a great time to cut back on processed sugar, which can also interrupt restful sleep, and focus on fueling your body with whole, fiber-rich foods, like dark leafy greens and plenty of veggies. One study found that eating a diet rich in fiber and low in sugar and refined carbohydrates could help you fall asleep faster — and stay asleep.
Just like caffeine and alcohol, stress can take its toll on our ability to get a good night’s sleep — and coupled with losing an hour due to the time change, we can be left feeling depleted and groggy in the days following. Now is the perfect time to work on reducing the stress throughout your day, so you can go to bed worry-free and (hopefully fall asleep faster). Try incorporating meditation into your day (checkout this article to learn how to start meditating), or doing a before bed yoga sequence to help you wind down. Or try a calming bath before bed. And if you’re able to, let yourself sleep in on the Sunday morning after your clocks have switched — no one says you have to actually lose an hour of actual sleep!
Proactively changing all your clocks the night before can also lessen the blow of the change in time. While some digital clocks may switch themselves — like our phones and laptops — a clock that’s often forgotten is the one in the car (and the stove). Make a point to change them before bed to ease any confusion that may come the morning after and make Daylight Savings Time a seamless switch.
How do you help your system adjust to Daylight Savings Time? Share your tips with us on Instagram or Facebook with @AvocadoMattress or #AvocadoGreenMagazine