Six Strategies That Will Help Your Body Adjust to the End of Daylight Savings Time: Part 1

Six Strategies That Will Help Your Body Adjust to the End of Daylight Savings Time: Part 1

By Lindsay Christensen

Nutritionist @ The Pratt Clinics


Part 1

In the United States, daylight savings time comes to an end on Sunday, November 4th. While many people are excited at the prospect of gaining an hour of sleep, the time change also has a significant drawback – it disrupts our circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythm disruption causes sleep difficulties, promotes daytime fatigue, and stresses the body; these effects make us more prone to the “winter blues,” colds, and even the flu. However, by taking simple steps to optimize your circadian rhythm, you can help your body adjust to the end of daylight savings time and stay healthy throughout the winter season! In this two-part blog series, I’ll discuss six dietary and lifestyle strategies that promote a healthy circadian rhythm and will help you stay well when we set the clocks back on November 4th.  

What are circadian rhythms? 

To understand why the end of daylight savings time takes a toll on our bodies, it helps first to understand circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the set of biochemical processes in our bodies that follow an approximately 24-hour cycle and regulate many aspects of our behavior and physiology, including our sleep/wake cycles, hormone release, digestion, metabolism, and immunity. (1) Circadian rhythms are produced by genes and proteins referred to as “body clocks” that are distributed throughout the body. The “master” body clock is located in the brain in a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). SCN function is entrained by the light/dark cycle that occurs naturally in our environment with the rising and setting of the sun. When light and dark cues from our environment shift, such as at the beginning and end of daylight savings time, the SCN becomes confused, and our circadian rhythms are thrown off-kilter. Subsequently, the physiological processes regulated by our circadian rhythms are disrupted; this disruption results in restlessness at night, poor sleep, fatigue, drowsiness, and mood changes during the day. This is not a fun way to enter the winter season! 

Interestingly, research indicates that it takes our circadian rhythms up to three weeks to adjust to the beginning and end of daylight savings time. This finding suggests that we can prepare our bodies for the end of daylight savings time in advance by optimizing our circadian rhythms in the weeks preceding the time change. Several dietary and lifestyle strategies can help us accomplish this.

6 Tips for adjusting to the end of DST 

Adjust your bedtime and practice good sleep hygiene

To prepare for the end of daylight savings time (DST), consider going to bed a little later each night in the week preceding the time change. Once DST ends, your previous bedtime, 10 pm, for example, will become the new 9 pm. If you can make yourself stay up later for several nights before the end of DST, your body will be better able to adjust to a later bedtime once the time change occurs. 

If you have kids, gradually push back their bedtime in the days leading up to the end of DST. Begin by pushing it back 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, 45 minutes, etc. until you have pushed it back an hour. This will help their bodies adjust better to the time change and keep their circadian rhythms functioning optimally. 

In addition to adjusting your bedtime, try to practice good sleep hygiene. The term “sleep hygiene” refers to regular habits and practices that promote restful, rejuvenating sleep. Good sleep hygiene helps you maintain a healthy sleep/wake cycle and a normal circadian rhythm. The most important principle of sleep hygiene is to sleep in a completely dark room free of artificial light pollution from electronic devices. Light from devices such as your iPhone, iPad, digital alarm clock, and night lights depresses the brain’s production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone that regulates circadian rhythms. Conversely, avoidance of these light sources in the bedroom optimizes melatonin production and sleep quality. In addition to keeping your room dark, try to keep it cool at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit; cooler temperatures signal to your circadian system that it’s time for bed and have been found to promote more restful sleep.

Don’t overindulge in naps

When darkness suddenly hits at 4 pm once we turn the clocks back, many people experience afternoon drowsiness. The urge to nap can be hard to resist. However, napping can further disrupt your sleep schedule and throw off your circadian rhythm by making it harder to fall asleep at night. Rather than napping, aim to get 7-8 hours of high-quality sleep every night so that you wake up refreshed and with enough energy to sustain you throughout the day. 

Exercise during the day, not the evening

Regular exercise is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. However, exercise should ideally be performed during the day because evening exercise activates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), the branch of our nervous system responsible for the “fight or flight” response. Excessive activity of the SNS before bed makes it difficult to fall asleep, throwing off your sleep cycle and circadian rhythm.

Please read Part 2 for more great tips. If you have any questions contact me at The Pratt Clinics.

Dr.Pratt is a great team player and her work complements the other therapies and approaches we follow in conjunction.

- Parent of Autism Spectral Disorder Patient

Apart from BIT, Dr.Pratt's vast knowledge of the biomedical basis of ASD helps support parents as they try to heal the child's body in helping the brain develop.

- Parent of Autism Spectral Disorder Patient

There were such significant changes in my child's behavior after Dr. Pratt’s treatment, that it absolutely changed his life and the whole family.

- Behavioral Issues and Family Naturopathic Care

I have to say, I have never seen anything have such a positive impact on someone's life.

- ADD / Memory Recall Patient

Dr. Pratt's approach was friendly, relaxing, reassuring and non-invasive, and the progress that we saw in our son's writing was immediate and remarkable.

- Specific Learning Disability Patient

I would highly recommend Dr. Pratt’s nurturing, life changing treatments to anyone who desires a better, easier way of living in this world.

- Anxiety / Learning Disability Patient

Dr. Pratt’s treatment made it possible for my daughter to go to school full-time for the first time in two years, and as a matter of fact, she’s now talking about going to college instead of worrying that she’d never graduate high school.

- Patient of Head Injury Patient

Since my first appointment with Dr. Pratt, I have come back to her for every ailment. She has quickly and effectively cured every sickness I have experienced.

- Naturopathic Medicine Patient

I am working 4 days a week and I accomplish more in a day now than I did in a whole week before. I feel productive and useful after BIT.

- Head Injury Patient

It has not all been easy, changing your lifestyle and diet is a challenge but we feel very supported by Dr. Pratt. It's a long road to recovery but the rewards are great along the way. My son has almost recovered from his symptoms and we owe all of this to Dr. Pratt. We are very thankful to have crossed her path at the right time in our journey.

- EI, Rye, NY

Dr. Pratt is compassionate and well-informed about the various challenges and available options for children with special needs. She is always willing to brainstorm options with parents and has a way of getting through to the children.

- Best, Pooja

It is almost impossible to explain the dramatic and positive effect Dr Shelese Pratt has had on my health. It is without exaggeration that I say Dr Pratt has saved my life on numerous occasions. To say her work has dramatically increased the quality of my life is gross understatement. There is not an aspect of my physical, mental, or emotional health that Dr Pratt has not addressed at some point during my years as her patient. I first saw Dr Pratt in 2005, after suffering one infection after another over the course of three months and had exhausted my known medial avenues. She was the only doctor to see the connection to between all of my symptoms and to care long enough and deep enough to get to the bottom of them. I have sent countless loved ones and colleagues to her over the years and know that the level of her care has changed their lives for better without exception. I have had the privilege of seeing Dr Pratt for Brain Integration, naturopathic, and homeopathic treatments and I can say without any reservation that I credit my health and well being to her and her practice.

- Erica A., Naturopathic Medicine Patient