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March 13, 2017

Springing ahead: 6 easy ways to cope with Daylight Savings Time

In the dark, dreary days of winter, when the sun sets around 5 p.m, many of us dream of those summer days where daylight can last until nearly 8 p.m.

Daylight Savings Time (DST) in the spring, is the first signal to us that those long summer days are on the horizon, but that isn’t to say that the early part of DST is a walk in the park. Many of us are feeling those effects this morning after turning the clocks ahead yesterday.

In fact, multiple studies have shown that DST influences many people negatively, especially in the first few days following the change. Things like car accidents, stroke and heart attack rates increase after “springing ahead” as do less fatal, yet still serious effects like depression, fatigue and memory loss.

Specifically, losing an hour in the spring can be detrimental to our health because the abrupt change interrupts our circadian rhythm, our bodies’ internal biological clock that regulates the sleep and wake cycle and drives the majority of our bodily functions.

While there isn’t much we can do about the change itself, we can be proactive about how we adapt. Below are six things you can do to make the transition a little easier on your body and mind.

Get in the sun.

Being in the sun helps our bodies feel more awake and sun exposure also increases alertness. If you are feeling tired, take a walk outside put your face in the sun for a few minutes and think of it as recharging your batteries. It may give you just the burst you need to get few those last few hours at your desk. On the contrary, minimize light exposure including screen time at night so your body can make melatonin, the hormone produced when your brain senses darkness and puts you to sleep.

Don’t rush if you are late.

Everyone is going to be running late in the week following the change. The worst thing that you can do is drive recklessly when you are tired. Leave extra time for yourself this week and if you are running a few minutes late cut yourself some slack, we’ve all been there.

Eat a good breakfast.

When you fuel your body with food, you are giving it energy to run on so eating a good breakfast in the morning really dictates how you are going to feel for the rest of the day. Some great breakfast options are smoothies, eggs, oatmeal, fruit and yogurt or high fiber/low sugar cereal.

Don’t forget to exercise.

Sometimes when you are in a pattern of bad sleep, it can be tempting to skip exercise but physical activity during the day actually helps you sleep more restfully at night. Making exercise a priority, even if it is just taking a 30-minute walk, can make a huge impact on both your mental and physical health.

Take a power nap.

If you are exhausted, don’t underestimate the power of a 20-30 minute nap. I used to be of the mindset that if I only had 20 minutes it wasn’t worth trying to sleep but trust me this little catnap can make you feel like a completely different person. Just don’t nap for too long, 30-60 minutes into your sleep cycle, your body goes into deeper sleep rhythms and when you wake up you would be more likely to feel groggy than refreshed.

Go to bed an hour earlier.

This last tip may seem like a no-brainer to you but it truly works. If you usually go to bed at 9 p.m., go to bed at 8 p.m. this week. This is your surefire way of taking that hour back! This is especially helpful to kids who are struggling to adjust to a new routine.

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I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me. I will continue to keep you posted on my health journey. Follow me for updates @christiemandia.

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