Use Sunlight to Reset Your Body Clock After the Time Change

Most people agree that the spring time change, when clocks move forward and we lose an hour, is easier than the fall time change when we gain an hour.  But, for many, any tinkering with the clock on the wall can cause them to have problems with their body clock.  At minimum, they have an “off” feeling for a few days.  More severe issues can include an outbreak of insomnia.  With the end of Daylight Saving Time 2014 coming up on November 2 at 2:00 a.m., there are a number of ways to help alleviate any problems that may arise, but the most effective may be right outside.

Making sure you get plenty of sunlight during the day is a very good way to reset your body clock regardless of what’s caused to it to be off kilter, and it’s even more important late in the year. The fall time change marks the beginning of shorter and darker days. Since sunlight is needed to keep your circadian rhythms on track, the fall and winter months can lead to sleeping difficulties and depression for many. To combat this, be sure to get plenty of light in the morning and throughout the day. If the weather is still warm where you are, having your morning coffee or breakfast outside is a great way to catch some rays.  Natural sunlight is best, but if the days are cloudy or you’re up before the sun, turn on plenty of lights in the house and consider getting a light box.

Here are some other tips to help make the fall time change as easy as possible:

Start preparing early: While staying up later than you feel like you should isn’t a problem for most people, some find it difficult. If you’re one of these people, try starting early by staying up a little later each night leading up to the time change.

Consider when to change your clocks: It’s automatic for most people on the night before the time change to set their clocks back, but that might not be the best way to go.  Simply put, if you make no changes to your clock until the next morning, whether it’s the fall or spring time change, then you will get the amount of sleep you normally do, assuming a regular sleep and wake time is kept.  This is, of course, assuming that you don’t have a schedule to keep, such as going to church or work on Sunday morning.

Avoid exercise, caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime: All three of these can disrupt your ability to sleep well and it’s always a good idea to avoid them near bedtime. A cup of coffee on Sunday or Monday morning isn’t a bad thing, though, and may help you get going on days when you might feel a little “off” due to the time change.

Prepare your kids
Some kids have a very difficult time adjusting, particularly the young ones who are still napping. Starting a few days before the time change, try to push their naps a little later each day to eventually line them up to where they will be after the time change.

In the end, don’t be surprised if you’re not quite feeling yourself for a couple of days. Take it easy and you’ll adjust quickly.