Every fall, specifically the first Sunday in November, marks the end of the DST period where clocks return to standard time. Since the day of the transition will be 25 hours long, we gain an extra hour. Basically, an hour is lost when DST ends and standard time begins.
It’s believed that Benjamin Franklin originated the concept of daylight saving time. But it wasn’t until the Uniform Time Act of 1966 that daylight saving time became standard across the country. Initially, this proclaimed that clocks would advance one hour at two a.m. on the last Sunday in April and turn back one hour at two a.m. on the last Sunday in October.
During the past few decades, daylight saving time has evolved. It begins at two a.m. during the second Sunday in March and ends at two a.m. during November’s first Sunday. Some say the change is intended to give children more daylight to trick or treat.
While “falling back” (supposedly) isn’t as exhausting as “springing forward,” it’s not always the smoothest of transitions. So, to ensure that you get the most out of the end of daylight saving time, here are some tips to make you feel more at ease “falling back.”
1. Make gradual shifts.
In preparation for the change to DST, you may have gone to bed 15 minutes earlier in the weeks leading up to it. Although “springing ahead” is usually more challenging than “falling back,” the strategy can be reversed for the end of Daylight Savings Time.
Whitney Roban, a psychologist and sleep specialist for families, schools, and corporations, suggests gradually moving bedtime 15 minutes later for a few nights. Then, “By daylight saving on Sunday night, your body will have gradually adjusted to the new time change.”
Roban notes that shifting your schedule up by 15 minutes over the next few days can be especially powerful for young children, so make sure not just to change their bedtime but also other activities.
“We want naps, meals, and bedtime to all happen 15 minutes later than usual,” says Eva Klein, a certified infant and child sleep consultant and founder of My Sleeping Baby. What if your children don’t have a flexible schedule, or this is too stressful? Klein says not to be alarmed. Instead, do the best you can to push naps up gradually until back on her previous nap schedule within the week.”
2. Spice up your to-do list.”
“You know all of those little home maintenance tasks we tend to forget about or put off doing?” asks Kate Holdefehr over at Real Simple. Well, “the start and end of Daylight Saving Time is our twice-yearly reminder to tackle that to-do list.”
“While these little chores aren’t exactly fun — most of them only take about 15 minutes, and they promise to make your home safer and help your belongings last longer,” adds Holdefehr. “Plus, just think, once you finish the to-dos below, you won’t have to worry about them for another six months.”
- Test your fire and CO detectors, and replace the batteries if necessary.
- Flip or rotate your mattress 180-degrees to extend its life.
- Clean your coffee machine, dryer vent, furnace filters, and gutters.
- Take inventory of your medicine cabinet and restock on the also add the following items to your to-do-list;
- Make the switch to LED light bulbs. As seasons change, they maintain a healthy circadian rhythm by simulating sunlight.
- Replace the batteries in all of your remotes and flashlights.
- Remember that twilight and darkness arrive earlier after DST ends, so be careful when walking your pets or exercising in the morning or evening. As such, you might want to consider investing in reflective gear and a LED headlamp.
3. Maintain consistency — even the Saturday night before.
There is a temptation to stay up late or change your routine now that you have an extra hour to spare on Sunday morning. After all, why not use that extra hour to socialize with friends or watch one more episode of your favorite TV show?
While not precisely thrilling, going to bed at around your average time will prevent disrupted sleep. Not only will this yawn more the following day, but it can also negatively affect our mood, energy levels, and concentration. Also, your body will adjust to the time change faster if you stick to the usual schedule of getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
4. Remember, bedtime is downtime.
Kids aren’t the only ones who need bedtime routines. While doing things in a specific order isn’t necessary, both children and adults can benefit from the habit of downtime before bed. Besides reducing anxiety, this can help you get more sleep at night.
To get you started, here are some ways you can unwind at the end of the day;
- Take a warm shower – not a hot one
- Avoid blue light by putting your phone, computer, or tablet away
- Pick up a non-suspenseful book instead of watching TV
- Turn your bedroom into a cave by making sure your room is cool, dark, and quiet
When daylight saving ends, it sends a message to us that it’s essential for all of us to follow a bedtime routine. But, this is especially true with children. Be aware that your child is dealing with a schedule change that might cause them to struggle. Since a bedtime routine signals that it’s time for bed, this can ease this issue.
5. Set limitations on your vices.
You may be unable to relax naturally at night because of the stimulating effects of caffeine or tobacco on your nervous system. In addition, factors like alcohol and food consumption can also disrupt your sleep hormones.
With that in mind, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and snacks to help your body relax and prepare for sleep during the evening. Instead, light, small snacks are recommended you’re feeling hungry.
You’re tired, and there’s nothing wrong with a nap. It’s been found that naps can restore alertness. The catch? Keep your naps under 20 to 30 minutes. If you take longer naps, you will experience disruptions in your sleep patterns and feel more tired as a result.
6. Soak up the sun.
Light and dark cycles of the sun affect our sleep cycle, circadian clock, and alertness, notes the CDC. With this knowledge, you can manipulate light exposure during the day to improve your sleep at night and be more alert during the day. That’s all well and good. But, as you know, there’s just not as much sunlight around this time of year with the sun setting earlier. And it’s only going to get worse as we transition from fall to winter.
As a consequence, it’s important to schedule your daylight hours based on the new light-dark cycle, according to Dr. Michael Decker, Endowed Chair of the Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Sciences, Georgia State University, and associate professor of nursing and neural science.”
“So, unless you’re driving, take off your sunglasses,” he says” “This is similar to the strategy used to reset your circadian rhythms when traveling across time zones. It’s also suggested that the week before DST ends, spend as much time outside as possible. Some suggestions would be going for an extended walk in the morning or planning outdoor activities with your family.
7. Get more melatonin and vitamin D into your life.
It goes without saying that vitamin D helps with sleep quality. In fact, research has found that vitamin D may be directly linked to melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Yet, despite this, around 42% of the US population is vitamin D deficient.
While getting outside and soaking up the sun is one way to get more vitamin D. Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” for a good reason, here are some other ways to get more of it;
- Eat more fatty fish and seafood like tuna, mackerel, shrimp, and oysters.
- Include more egg yolks and mushrooms in your diet.
- Consume fortified foods like orange juice, certain types of yogurt, or cereal.
- Try supplements like D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol).
- Invest in a UV lamp.
Melatonin may also help you to wind down before you sleep by slowing down your body. But, again, it’s recommended that you do this two hours before bed. And, this should be done on the days immediately following the time shift so that you can get used to the new schedule more quickly.
8. Take advantage of the extra hour.
“As a nation, we are not getting enough sleep,” said Wayne Giles, M.D., director of the CDC’s Division of Population Health. “Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need.”
With that being said, if you’re able to sleep in for an extra hour, go ahead and do it! You only have one day a year to gain an additional hour of sleep.
Image credit: ron lach; pexels