Help your body adjust to the time change with these tips
Whether we “spring forward” or “fall back,” one thing remains constant: our sleep is impacted by this ritual. In the fall, we gain an extra hour of sleep, compared to losing an hour of sleep with the springtime change.
“Changing time in either direction shifts our body’s main time cue – daylight – for setting and resetting our 24-hour natural cycle. As a result, our internal clock becomes out of sync,” says Dr. Josh Fehl, medical director and sleep specialist for the Aurora Sleep Medicine Center in Mequon, Wisconsin.
“Losing” an hour of sleep in the spring can be a more difficult adjustment compared to “gaining” an hour in the fall, he said.
“We have to get up an hour earlier in the spring whereas in the fall, the time change is more in line with our internal clock,” says Dr. Fehl.
And it’s not just adults who might struggle with the time change. Kids also might struggle with the change to their bedtime routine.
The good news is there are strategies we can deploy to help prepare our bodies for the time changes. Here are some tips Dr. Fehl recommends to make the time change more tolerable for adults and kids alike.
- Adjust your bedtime. Dr. Fehl recommends adjusting your bedtime by 15 minutes each night for the week leading up to the time change. In the spring, that means going to bed a little earlier each night while in the fall you go to be a little later each night. “This way, when the time change happens, you or your child is already used to falling asleep closer to the ‘new time,’” Dr. Fehl says.
- Transition into sleep. Calming habits such as meditation or reading can signal to your body it’s time to go to sleep.
- See the light. Get exposure to daylight when you wake up in the morning whether it’s sitting by the window while eating breakfast or sitting by a light therapy lamp after you wake up.
About the Author
Vicki Martinka Petersen, health enews contributor, is a digital copywriter on the content team at Advocate Aurora Health. A former newspaper reporter, she’s worked in health care communications for the last decade. In her spare time, Vicki enjoys tackling her to be read pile, trying new recipes, meditating, and planning fun activities to do in the Chicago area with her husband and son.