Daylight savings comes to a tragic end this Sunday, March 8th, and once again my internal clock will go haywire and I will feel the effects of one little hour for a good couple of days. My husband laughs at the way I can travel the globe and deal with 14 hour time changes with a shrug of the shoulder but that one little hour will floor me.
While an hour may not seem like a lot, the time shift can have significant effects on our body including sleep cycles, hormone levels and digestion and studies have shown that there is a dramatic increase of heart attacks and car accidents the day after the time changes.
With the change in hours of sunlight exposure our natural sleep-wake cycle – aka the circadian rhythm – goes through a period of chaos and confusion. Our circadian rhythm helps to regulate everything from body temperature and energy to alertness and mood. Our bodies are constantly cycling through different rhythms to help us maintain a stable mood and overall well-being. One of the ways it does this is through certain hormones like cortisol and melatonin, both of which are regulated and secreted by light!
Because the light shifts during daylight savings time, your natural circadian rhythms are disrupted and your body can make hormones at the wrong time of day which may lead to a long list of symptoms like fatigue, depression, irritability, anxiety, etc. Fortunately, there are some ways you can support your body which we’ve listed out below.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep hydration levels up. Do not over consume in the later hours otherwise you will be up at all hours needing to pee.
Start adjusting TONIGHT.
Tonight, go to sleep and wake up a half an hour earlier. Remember to set all your clocks prior to going to sleep- this will help avoid morning confusion and panic.
Use light to regulate your circadian rhythms.
Expose yourself to the sun when it wakes up. This will help your body to naturally reset it’s internal clock. Continue to expose yourself to light during the waking hours as much as possible. The same idea holds true when the sun goes down – do your best to limit light exposure to encourage your body to secrete certain hormones, including melatonin.
Look into a sun lamp.
If you’re unable to expose yourself to natural light throughout the day, look into purchasing a sun lamp. Be sure to get a full-spectrum lamp, ideally 10,000 LUX as this will mimic natural outdoor light so you’re able to still reap the benefits of the sun!
Get plenty of fresh air and exercise.
Exercise will get the blood pumping and body oxygenated- helping to blow those cobwebs out the place. Added benefit will be better sleep!
Supplement with Vitamin D.
Vitamin D levels tend to drop in the winter because of the change in sunlight. Vitamin D has many roles in the body and is essential for optimal health, including hormone balance, immunity and bone health. We encourage you to incorporate vitamin D rich foods into your diet like salmon, swordfish, beef liver, egg yolks and wild mushrooms as well as supplement with vitamin D. Please mention at your next appointment and we’d be happy to test you on some products.
Written by: Michelle Richey