I don’t know about you, but Daylight Saving Time doesn’t seem to save me time at all. Intended to give us more daylight in the summer months, it seems to rob us of precious time in autumn. Even though we “fall back” and get an extra hour, the day seems shorter to me and the week that follows with early evening sunsets really shakes up my schedule. As a frequent traveler who is constantly having to reset her internal clock due to time zone changes, it seems like Daylight Saving Time would be an easy adjustment. But even though it’s just an hour change, the difference in daylight messes with my schedule as well as my sleep. During the day, I end up triple checking time zones and second guessing my scheduled international conference calls. And when the sunsets at 5:30 p.m. or earlier, suddenly 7 p.m. feels like midnight.
It’s kind of like jet lag. Usually exhaustion does a pretty good job with helping me crash into my pillow at night. Staying asleep, however, is the challenge. I’ll go to bed at 11 p.m. but then unfortunately bounce up wide awake at 3 a.m. When I’m in Europe, that’s understandable since that’s about the time it’s 8 a.m. at home. But when I’m home and it’s just the annual fall time adjustment keeping me awake at night, it’s frustrating.
For me, sleeping pills are out of the question. Mostly because I don’t want to grow dependent on them and also because I’m afraid of using them and then sleeping in not waking up on time when I’m in a new place. So instead, I try to incorporate these more natural habits into my daily routine.
5 Ways To Adjust To Daylight Savings Time
1 – Exercise
With seemingly less time in the day, it’s easy to be tempted to cut this out of my schedule. But whenever I do, I end up regretting it. A brisk walk or invigorating run outdoors helps me release stress and organize my thoughts. As contradicting as it sounds, I feel like I have more energy throughout the day and sleep better at night when I get a bit of exercise. And research seems to support this link between exercise and sleep.
2 – Keep The Lights On
Daylight plays such a huge role in keeping us awake. One of the tips I give for travelers adjusting to new time zones is to open their window curtains before they go to sleep so that the morning sunlight will help naturally wake them at the appropriate hour, especially since most hotel curtains are made to be impermeable to light. And back home during Daylight Saving Time when the sunsets earlier, I rely more on artificial light to keep me going. The early onset of darkness tends to bring about the yawns, so I turn more lights on until I start to get ready for bed.
3 – Sip Something Soothing
One thing I’ve learned from experience while writing about food is that wine might feel like a relaxing night cap, but it ends up keeping me awake at night with indigestion. Instead, I now fix myself a caffeine free herbal tea or tart cherry tonic. The benefits of Montmorency tart cherries for sleep is something that I first read about in Prevention Magazine during long lay over at an airport, so I thought I’d give it a try. Turns out, tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin that may be able to help increase overall sleep efficiency. As I’ve been drinking it regularly, I notice that I don’t toss and turn nearly as much. A lot of travelers I know take melatonin supplements when traveling, but at home I like the night time ritual of making a tart cherry tonic mocktail with tart cherry juice concentrate, sparkling water, and a slice of lime.
4 – Limit Screen Time Before Bed
As an avid reader, I love having a whole library of books on my tablet. My favorite genre is historical fiction and it’s fascinating to pop back and forth between iBooks and Safari to look up maps and photos of places that are shared during the story. But before bed, I read an old fashioned paper book since it’s too tempting to check email and Facebook on my tablet. There’s nothing like reading a stressful work email or the subject line of an important task that needs to be completed to keep you up at night. Plus the light from the tablet keeps me awake, where as reading soft paper works it’s drowsiness-inducing charms.
5 – Create A Bedtime Ritual
Since I hop time zones frequently, having the same bed time each night is next to impossible. Instead, I make a habit of having a bed time ritual. It’s something that triggers my mind and body into thinking, “Oh. Okay, it’s time for sleep now” and it’s typically a combination of all the tips I have listed here. I’ll wash my face, put on some cozy pajamas, fix myself a tea or tonic, and then dive into a good book. And not a book for work, but a fascinating story to get my mind off the next day’s to-do list.
Pick out one of the tips above or try them all to create your own bedtime routine that will help get you through Daylight Saving Time. Want to learn more about tart cherries? Take a peek at a few of these fun tidbits …
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