Beat the Time Change Blues with These Helpful Tips!

If you find yourself feeling grumpy with every seemingly pointless daylight saving time change, you’re not alone. Research shows that daylight saving time (DST) can be a bit of a sneaky troublemaker. Around 55 percent of us feel a bit groggy after the switch, and there's more to it than just feeling sleepy—DST can actually increase our health risks. This includes more heart attacks, strokes, mood swings, and even car accidents!

That extra sunshine in the evening might sound great, but it can throw off our internal clocks, making it tough to sleep at the usual time.

Less sleep during DST isn't just about feeling tired; it can lead to all sorts of problems, like heart issues, diabetes, and even accidents. Some folks, like shift workers and teenagers, feel the effects more strongly. The panic we feel from forgetting to change our clocks and suddenly find ourselves scrambling to make that meeting on time just adds to the cascading effect that stress has on our adrenals. And the list goes on...

While we can’t make the decision individually to ignore this pesky time rule, we can make sure we’re supporting ourselves as much as possible through the time change and keep advocating to get rid of daylight saving altogether. Read on for helpful tips we’ve compiled to help keep your sleep on track as you navigate the impacts of DST.

Lifestyle Tips for Better Sleep

Setting the stage for sleep starts way before you hit the sheets. A crucially important step is developing a calming pre-sleep ritual like reading or taking a warm bath to signal to your body that it's time to wind down. Say goodnight to your screens too—no TV or scrolling through your phone allowed in bed! Keep those pesky electronics out of your sleep sanctuary altogether. Steer clear of things that rev up your system too close to bedtime, like vigorous exercise, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Instead, opt for relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation to ease into sleep mode. And when it's lights out, make sure it's really lights out—block out any pesky light and noise disturbances with an eye mask, blackout curtains, and a trusty white noise machine.

Now, let's talk about some nutrients that may give you an extra edge in the sleep department.

  • The B vitamins have long been used to support a healthy stress response, but they are also important for supporting healthy sleep patterns. Vitamin B3 (niacin) has been shown to promote REM sleep and supports the body’s natural ability to sleep through the night. Vitamins B6 and B1 (thiamin) are involved in the production of energy and play a role in supporting healthy sleep patterns; however, they should be taken early to mid-day, as they may have a stimulating effect on some people.
  • A lack of calcium and magnesium can cause you to wake up after a few hours of sleep and not be able to go back to sleep. Calcium is a natural relaxant and has a calming effect on the nervous system. It has also been shown to normalize sleep patterns, specifically REM sleep. The complicated conversion of tryptophan to 5-HTP to serotonin and melatonin requires not only the B vitamins but also sufficient levels of magnesium and vitamin C.
  • Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with poor sleep quality and quantity, with research indicating that levels less than 20 ng/mL can significantly affect sleep. Vitamin D influences the activity of genes that control circadian rhythms and is naturally produced in response to sunlight. Experts recommend maintaining blood levels of vitamin D at 50 ng/mL to support optimal health.
  • The amino acid L-theanine, naturally found in green tea, famous for supporting a sense of calm and relaxation. It helps support healthy sleep by maintaining healthy levels of the calming neurotransmitter GABA and supporting the body’s natural alpha brain waves present during REM sleep. L-theanine has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier quickly and can support a healthy sleep cycle, sleep duration, and sleep quality.
  • Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland that plays a crucial role in regulating the circadian rhythm. Exposure to artificial indoor light and blue light from electronic devices inhibits melatonin release. Dimming lights and reducing exposure to screens before bedtime can help.

Don't Forget About Diet!

Your diet can have a profound effect on how well you sleep. Avoiding caffeine in the latter part of the day is important. Additionally, a diet rich in vegetables, healthy fats, and moderate protein supports healthy blood sugar balance, inflammation levels, and adrenal health, all things that support healthy sleep patterns. Consuming foods like tart cherries, walnuts, and kiwi fruit may also support healthy sleep.

As we navigate through time changes, implementing these simple yet effective measures can truly make a world of difference in how we adapt and thrive. By prioritizing a soothing pre-sleep routine, nourishing our bodies with essential nutrients, and being mindful of our lifestyle choices, we can mitigate the disruptions caused by time change. Let's embrace these healthy practices and pave the way for a smoother transition, ensuring we continue to prioritize our wellbeing every step of the way. Here's to a harmonious adjustment and a restful night's sleep, no matter the time zone (or change)!

References available upon request.