The brilliant fall colours have come and gone and depending on where you live, frost or snow is beginning to settle in. The amount of daylight we also experience in the Northern Hemisphere starts to diminish and daylight savings comes to an end. Although we gain an additional hour of sleep, this additional hour can create a rough transition for our internal clocks.
Some might think that "an hour is just an hour, right? What's the big deal?" Did you know that our internal clocks are molecules/proteins that interact with cells throughout the body? They react to physical, mental, and behavioural changes, such as our exposure to light and dark. With daylight reduced over the winter months, how can we more easily make adjustments? We looked to the Canadian Sleep and Circadian Network for some tips.
Tip 1: Set yourself up for quality sleep leading up to a time change
Studies show that staying up extra late to take advantage of that additional hour actually decreases cognitive abilities the next day. Create a comfortable sleep environment to help you enjoy a deep sleep through reducing screen time, ensuring the room temperature is cool, and consider utilizing relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga to help calm you before bed.
Tip 2: Do not automatically sleep in, evolve over your wake-up time
Over the past six months, you have been generally waking at the same time. Ease into a new routine by adjusting your alarm by 15 minutes every other day over the course of the first week after daylight saving time ends, gradually allowing your body to move to the new normal.
Tip 3: Switch-up your workout routines
If you are an early riser, adopt those extra early mornings for an additional adrenaline boost to start your day. If you are like the rest of us, perhaps transition your workouts to an evening group workout where you can look forward to shaking off the day's stresses and be motivated to do so by those around you.
The Canadian Sleep and Circadian Network notes that we can help our bodies prepare for upcoming time and light changes. Depending on your chronotype (the natural inclination of your body to sleep, eat and exercise at certain times), some people may not notice the changes whereas others could have trouble in adapting for long periods of time. Adjusting can take up to three weeks or more, so creating a plan and sticking to it will aid your internal clocks for an easier adjustment.