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Time for a Change

Unless you live in Hawaii or Arizona you are in for a change this weekend – whether you like it or not.

It seems that since this is the time change where we “gain” an hour it would be an easy adjustment.

Maybe not. 

Here’s what the experts say:

  • The brain’s internal clock can take up to a week to adjust to a new time change, and many people will experience trouble falling asleep and staying asleep during that period.
  • Once the time change happens, the sun will go down earlier and days will be shorter. This means that we will be spending more waking hours in the dark, which leads to an increased risk of developing seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is more than just the winter blues, it’s a form of depression that can be difficult to deal with in the winter months, according to the American Psychological Association. Symptoms of SAD including fatigue, sleep difficulty or excessive sleeping, weight gain, feelings of hopelessness or despair and thoughts of suicide, according to the APA.
  • The end of daylight saving time also presents hazards for drivers, who will be spending more time on the road when the sun is down. The National Highway Safety Administration has cautioned “motorists and pedestrians to be more alert as the potential for harm increases as darkness falls earlier.”

Coping with time change can be challenging. 

Here are the top five ways to cope with the time change weekend:

  1. Do not make adjustments or justifications based on the time change. For example, rationalizing that before the time change it was this time, so it’s OK to stay up later, overindulge, etc. The sleep debt that is created when reverting back to standard time is often far greater than when daylight saving costs an hour in the schedule. And sleep debt has known effects on type 2 diabetes, increased risk for depression, severe mood swings, mental illness, stroke and asthma attacks.
  2. Stick to a routine. Maintaining a consistent daily routine can help your body adjust to the time change more smoothly. This includes eating meals at the same time and engaging in regular activities.
  3. Get plenty of sunlight. Exposure to natural light is a powerful signal for regulating your body’s internal clock. Spend time outdoors during daylight hours to help synchronize your circadian rhythms with the new time.
  4. Limit stimulants. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants in the evening, especially in the days leading up to the time change. These can disrupt your sleep and make it harder to adjust to the new schedule.
  5. Use relaxation techniques. Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation to help reduce stress and improve sleep quality. These techniques can be especially helpful if you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep after the time changes.

Additionally, it’s essential to be patient with yourself during the adjustment period. It may take a few days for your body to fully adapt to the new time, so give yourself time to acclimate and prioritize good sleep hygiene to ensure you get enough rest.

Time to go change my watches.

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