Springing forward doesn't have to be a hassle. Here are six (6) ways to handle the time change.
But first things first. Let's demystify the concept of 'springing forward'.
WHAT DOES SPRINGING FORWARD MEAN?
On Sunday, the 28th of March, at 2am, people living in North America and some parts of the world set their clocks forward to 3am. Setting the clocks one hour forward or ahead of standard time in spring is one aspect of Daylight Saving Time. This is called springing forward. On that day, you and others lost an hour of sleep. Essentially, this practice is observed to save daylight hours for the most productive time of the day. However, it throws your circadian rhythm out of whack because it affects the main time cue for regulating this rhythm, which is light.
The body's 24-hour internal clock that manages its sleep-wake cycle, the circadian rhythm, is affected by external factors like light. When it's dark, the eyes send a signal to the hypothalamus (the part of the brain which controls the circadian rhythm) that it's time to sleep. This signal makes the body release melatonin, a hormone that causes sleepiness. On the other hand, when there is light, the reverse of this body process occurs. The body suppresses the secretion of melatonin which keeps us awake. When there is less light during the mornings (when you need to wake up) and more light at night (when you should be falling asleep) during springing forward, this disrupts the body's regular sleeping patterns.
Indeed, springing forward has been linked to spikes in heart disease like heart attack and stroke. Obviously, disruption in our sleep patterns takes its toll on our heart health in the long run.
So to ease the strain of this transition, you must:
Engaging in some form of physical activity helps you sleep better. Exercising is one of the many triggers for the release of endorphins, a stress reliever that aids sleep. The brain also releases another hormone called serotonin that helps us adjust to changes in our environment. Besides, you get to boost your energy levels when you exercise. You will need the energy to cope with the stress of springing forward.
Take a nap when you realize you are not getting enough sleep. Short naps no longer than 30 minutes are best. Moreover, do not nap in the early mornings as this will make your body take longer to adjust to the time change. To get some quality sleep at night, do not also nap at times closer to your bedtime.
3. DON'T EAT LATE
After the time change, you will feel the urge to eat earlier or later than your regular meal times. Resist the hunger pangs and make sure you take your meals at the usual time. Have meals at regular intervals too, so your body has enough time to digest one meal before the next. Do not also eat late or around your bedtime, since digestion can disrupt your sleep.
4. CUT DOWN ON THE CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL
Avoid taking alcohol and coffee or caffeinated beverages before bedtime. These have disruptive effects on your sleep. Caffeine, in particular, is a stimulant that makes it hard for you to fall asleep. Plus, it delays the timing of your body clock, which reduces your total sleep time. Alcohol also causes nightmares and breathing issues which affect the quality of your sleep.
5. SET YOUR CLOCK EARLY
Unfortunately, we have already sprung forward. But it's good to set your clock a few days before springing forward occurs. That way, you will get used to the time change before it happens. Springing forward usually occurs on Sundays in the wee hours of the morning. This is before a workweek, and since you'll lose an hour of sleep on the day of the time change, the loss of sleep will take its toll. So you will want to ease into this transition by setting your clock forward on a Friday or Saturday if you are off work.
If you are using a smartphone or smartwatch, note that these spring forward automatically, so there's no need to reset them.
6. STICK TO A SLEEP ROUTINE
Once you start getting used to the time change, be disciplined to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. You have to do this even on weekends. This helps the body to regulate its sleep cycle. Changing your normal sleep patterns makes you susceptible to the effects of springing forward.
Check out these tips for having a good night's sleep:
- Make your bed comfy, so you can sleep well.
- Dim the lights in your bedroom before dropping off.
- Switch off all electronic gadgets like the TV, mobile phones and laptops. Light from them suppresses the release of melatonin which affects your sleep. If you work late and must use a gadget like a laptop, adjust the light from the screen or wear blue-blocking glasses.
With these tips, we hope you'll have a Happy Springing Forward!
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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