10 Tips to “Fall Back” Healthy
Advance Preparation. If 10 p.m. is your regular bedtime, 9 p.m. is going to feel more like normal following the time change. Staying up 20 minutes past your normal bedtime on the Friday and Saturday before falling back may help you stick to your schedule later in the week.
- Pre-Schedule on Saturday. If you don’t have a strict schedule on Saturday, turn back your clocks during the late morning or early afternoon. Shifting your daily activities, such as meals, to an earlier time will help your body adjust more smoothly.
- Don’t fall into the trap of staying up later on the Saturday night before the time change because of that “extra hour.” Most usually overdo this and actually end up losing sleep. Try to avoid building up a sleep debt in the days before the change.
- Limit all alcohol, caffeine and nicotine the day before the time change. These substances can impact your ability to fall asleep and they can also trigger headaches especially if you are prone to cluster headaches during the time change.
- Get as much sunshine as you can during the coming weeks. Try to take a walk during the day or spend your lunch break outdoors to boost your mood and energy levels. 20 to 30 minutes of daily sun can make a huge difference.
- Exercise. Mild exercise, such as a walk in the late afternoon or early evening, can help keep you from going home and crashing after work. Exercise actually releases the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain which helps your body advance the clock and adapt to the time change.
- Light Therapy. Many people, especially those with seasonal affective disorder, find that using a light box can help. Those with bipolar disorder should consult a doctor first.
- Melatonin. Melatonin can help realign your body’s rhythm if you find yourself having difficulty in sleeping. The use of melatonin to promote restful sleep is well documented. Studies of low dose, oral melatonin in healthy adult volunteers showed that time to sleep onset, stage-2 sleep, and REM sleep was decreased without affecting the percentage of time in REM sleep or alertness after waking. In addition, evidence also indicates improved sleep benefits for children as well. Use as directed.
- Ditch the naps. Although you may be tempted to take a power nap during the day, don’t. If you get tired, take a walk or eat a healthy snack.
- Adjust lighting. Adjusting the amount of light and dark in your home/office can help streamline your body’s circadian rhythm, making the transition to a change in time less difficult. Opening the blinds in the house as soon as you get up in the morning, and then dimming the lights at the same time every evening will help your body relax and know the time is coming for sleep. I highly suggest turning off computers, TVs and tablets at least one hour before bed.