Spring Forward! 9 Tips to Help Your Body Adjust to the Time Change

John Egan - The Upside Blog

by | Read time: 3 minutes

Resetting the clock for daylight saving time can mess with your body clock. And you’re not alone in that regard. A 2019 survey by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that 55% of Americans feel tired after the spring time change.

“Daylight saving time increases our morning exposure to darkness and evening exposure to sunlight, the most powerful timing cue for the human body clock,” Dr. Shannon Sullivan, clinical professor of sleep medicine at Stanford University, says in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release. “The time change causes misalignment between the body’s daily rhythm and the clock, making it harder to fall asleep at night, disrupting sleep quality and leading to sleep loss, which can negatively impact health and safety.”

Alarm Clock on Table and Woman Stretching in Window Near Bed to Represent Adjusting to the Spring Time Change | Vitacost.com/blog

You can take steps to reverse that misalignment, though. Follow these nine tips to put more of a spring in your step after the time change.

1. Commit to a consistent amount of sleep.

When you lose an hour of sleep due to the time change, that’s no excuse for cutting back on your nightly slumber. After daylight saving time kicks in, you still should strive to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night. If you stick to this routine, your mind and body will thank you.

“Setting aside time to get the sleep you need is a gift you can give yourself,” the Better Sleep Council says.

To determine your ideal bedtime, check out the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s bedtime calculator.

2. Cut off eating and drinking ahead of bedtime.

The Better Sleep Council explains that digestion of food and beverages can disrupt your sleep. Therefore, you should stop eating and drinking two to three hours before heading to bed. Be sure to limit caffeine consumption to the morning and to quit alcohol consumption by early evening.

3. Take a nap.

A long afternoon nap in the wake of daylight saving time sounds tempting, doesn’t it? While a daily nap is perfectly fine, don’t go past the 20- or 30-minute mark. A short nap (before 3 p.m.) can help your body adjust to the time change, according to the Better Sleep Council. Napping any longer than 20 or 30 minutes could make it harder to sleep at night.

4. Soak up the sun.

In the morning, try to expose yourself to sunlight or artificial light. For instance, consider an early morning walk around your neighborhood. This exposure to light helps reset your circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep-and-wake cycle.

5. Watch your exercise schedule.

Avoid exercising too late in the day, as it can hamper your sleep pattern.

“Moderate- to high-intensity exercise should be performed earlier in the day, as late-night exercise can inhibit a good night’s sleep,” Mark Aloia, global lead for behavior change at Philips Healthcare, told Today.com. “During exercise, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, and when this occurs close to bedtime, it may also affect subsequent sleep propensity.”

6. Stay away from bright lights at night.

Hackensack Meridian Health in Hackensack, New Jersey, recommends limiting exposure to bright lights an hour or two before bed. This includes light from cellphones, computers, tablets and TVs. As the Cleveland Clinic points out, high-intensity “blue light” from electronic devices stimulates your brain and hinders production of melatonin, the hormone that triggers sleepiness.

7. Take a warm bath.

Soaking in a warm bath or taking a warm shower an hour or two before bed can help you fall asleep and can even improve your sleep, according to NPR. The Farmers’ Almanac suggests adding a few drops of a relaxing essential oil, such as lavender or mandarin, to your bath.

8. Sip some herbal tea.

A cup of herbal tea can soothe you ahead of bedtime. Varieties of herbal tea that may work best include chamomile and lavender, the Farmers’ Almanac says. Be sure to check with your health professional before regularly drinking herbal tea.

9. Look into supplements.

Natural supplements like melatonin, magnesium and valerian may help you fall asleep, the Farmers’ Almanac notes.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.