This Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 2 a.m., clocks in most U.S. states will be turned forward one hour. Daylight Saving Time will begin. In Northern Hemisphere spring, the memory tool is “spring forward.” Easy to do with clocks. Less easy – for many – with your own body. Last year, there were media reports of some slight detrimental effects to the body associated with springing forward into Daylight Time. For example, researchers in Stockholm found a slight increase in hearts attacks in the week after setting clocks forward for spring. And many report feeling groggy or off kilter during that week. This post describes some coping strategies, which you need to begin now.
We all know instinctively where the off kilter feelings come from. Martin Young, PhD, a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, described it this way to MedPage Today last year:
Every cell in the body has a molecular clock that allows the cells and organs to anticipate the day’s events. When there are time changes, such as shift work, traveling through time zones, or daylight saving time, it takes a while for these cells to reset their internal timing mechanism.
Young also offered five strategies for allowing your body to cope more gracefully with “springing forward” at the spring clock change. He suggested:
1. Wake up 30 minutes earlier on Saturday and Sunday, to minimize the impact of getting up earlier on Monday morning.
2. Eat a good breakfast.
3. Spend time outside in the sunlight in the early morning hours over the few days leading up to the clock change.
4. Do your regular daily exercise in the mornings over this weekend.
5. Consider setting your clock ahead on Friday evening, allowing an extra day to adjust over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mercola whose website has a lot of health information – offers our next five coping strategies for easing into Daylight Savings.
6. Eat plenty of fresh, whole foods, preferably organic, and minimal amounts of processed foods, fast foods and sugar.
7. Use best practices for sleep. He suggests sleeping in complete darkness, in a not-too-warm room.
8. Get enough vitamin D.
9. Manage your stress with whatever stress-busting techniques work for you.
To these ideas, I’ll add one more suggestion.
10. Try not to think in terms of what time it is “really.” In other words, after the clock change, just move forward without mentally checking back to yesterday’s time system. Example of what not to think: “It’s really only 5 p.m.”
By the way, SleepBetter.com has come up with its first Lost–Hour Economic Index, which attempts to put a price tag on the hour lost to Daylight Saving Time and the problems from fatigue and sluggishness.
Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. ends Sunday, November 3. According to the Stockholm study, there were no statistically significant changes in heart attack incidence following the autumn “fall back.”
Bottom line: Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. begins March 10, 2013. This post contains some ideas for allowing your body to prepare for the time shift.