Tag Archives: jet lag

A Little Help for the Time Change

It’s time to change time. In most locations in the US, we move our clocks ahead one hour tomorrow, Sunday, March 13, 2011.  Daylight Saving Time.  Seems pretty straightforward.  But for our finely tuned, light-calibrated bodies, it’s enough to throw off your game for several days – or longer.   It’s like flying in place.  Jet lag without going anywhere.   

Studies have shown  increases in heart attacks, traffic and workplace accidents, depression, and suicides when we move to daylight saving time – though it is not clear if there is a direct correlation.   Whatever the studies say, most of us have firsthand experience with what a shift in our sleep pattern can do to our mood, cognitive ability, performance and productivity. 

Here are some practical tips to cushion the shock of that “spring forward” and help your body adjust to its new local time zone:

Spend some time outdoors in natural light – especially in the morning – on Saturday, Sunday and, if possible, for the first few days after the change.   Apparently, this helps the circadian rhythm of the body acclimate to the shift in time.

Exercise, which releases serotonin and other hormones involved with regulating sleep.

Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.   Always a good idea, especially when the body is adapting.

Eat lighter meals for a few days – to let digestion adjust more easily. 

Go to sleep 15 minutes earlier for a few days to make up for the potential sleep deficit of possibly waking up earlier.  Some suggest keeping your same bedtime.

Change your clocks the night before so you start getting used to the new time before it happens, instead of after.  

Avoid over-scheduling yourself.  Again, always a good idea, especially when in transition.