Those of us who are “night owls” may be ecstatic about our extra hour of sleep due to the start of Daylight Savings Time. Who can complain?
As it turns out, our bodies can feel grumpy due to the unnatural shift in the timing of light and dark. Our circadian clocks rely on day and night rhythms to stay balanced in the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone that leads to a good night’s rest. While autumn ushers in a bit more sleep, it means, due to DST, more darkness. Not only do our altered circadian rhythms make us sleepier, but shorter days can also make us feel depressed.
This seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects over 1.6 billion people across the world. Brought on by a lack of sunlight, this condition occurs during the short days and long nights of winter. Is SAD linked to Daylight Savings Time? A study conducted a few years ago came to this conclusion: From 1995 to 2012, researchers discovered a spike in Denmark hospital admissions for depression during the month following the start of Daylight Savings Time.
How can you keep yourself alert and happy during these shorter cold month days, ready for rest once bedtime nears?
Stick to Your Schedule
Give your mind and body no reason to feel out-of-whack. Stick to your typical schedule, staying consistent with eating, socializing and exercise times. Avoid workouts during the evening hours as they can leave you with a racing heart and mind before bedtime. The same thing goes for caffeinated drinks and alcohol which can keep you awake or restless.
Fling open your shutters and let the sun in! Enjoying the sunlight helps you get on the right track, find your circadian rhythm sweet spot. Additionally, taking time to bask in the sun can lift your mood, brighten your spirits.
To Nap or Not to Nap: That is the Question!
Cold weather makes us want to hibernate: We find our favorite snuggly blanket, and before we know it, we’re dozing off. The temptation is very strong following lunch when a full stomach can lead to a sluggish grog. However, napping at mid-day can refresh you to the point of not being tired enough to sleep at night. Once again, the sun is your friend: Take a break from your indoor work and walk outside.
Have a Nighttime Ritual
Prepare for sleep before you tuck yourself in. Dim the lights in your bedroom and get away from the bright screens of phone, computer and TV. Electronic screens stimulate your brain and interfere with the production of melatonin. Pick up a book or listen to soft music. A warm shower is an excellent way to relax. Warmth activates the cooling of the body core, the perfect precursor to deep sleep.
Don’t let Daylight Savings Time wreck your November. Stay sun-bright during the day and snuggle into a deep, refreshing sleep at night.