SPRING FORWARD TO SAVE YOUR DAYLIGHT
Assistant Professor and Sleep Expert Dr. Azizi Seixas is back again with his best practices on how to tackle the Daylight Saving slump. As a father of two little ones and having extensive experience as a seasoned biomedical researcher, scientist, and health-tech innovator, we are honored to team up with Dr. Azizi and his family to bring you reputable insight and tips around all things regarding sleep and healthy living.
It’s the dreaded SPRING forward week and I am sure many of you feel sluggish, lethargic, grumpy, or are just feeling out of it because you were robbed of an hour of precious sleep. Outside of wishing that we get rid of Daylight Saving Time, there are a few things that we can do to better adjust to this major time reboot.
You see, that is the key: REBOOT! Every time we move forward (Spring) and back (Fall) we have to reboot our bodies and mindset about time. Some of us adjust easily, while others take longer. Some scientists, like my own colleagues and friends, state that we are doing harm to our bodies with each shift. Daylight Saving can be linked to increased heart attacks, car accidents, poor performance on the job due to diminished concentration levels, and appetite spikes (getting hungrier more often and earlier).
However, we tend to focus on ourselves as adults and pay little attention to our kiddos. In fact, our kiddos are affected more by this back and forth in time-shifting because their bodies rely so heavily on sleep routines and, if disrupted, they are unable to manage the physical and mental toll it has on their bodies. Our kids can tend to be more irritable and even act differently from their normal personality traits during these shifts because of this.
So, how do you REBOOT or recalibrate their internal clocks during the shift? Below Meg (sleep-aholic) and I (sleep expert) have offered some tips that we use and are also backed by biomedical and parenting science:
Biomedical Science Tips
I have come up with an easy to remember guide to help you through our clocks springing forward...just think about the word SPRING!
S: Sunlight. Getting more sunlight helps regulate your biological clock and also helps you fight the tiredness you feel. It can help to recalibrate and reboot your biological clock that is cued naturally by sunlight and darkness.
P: Prepare for Adjustment. We recommend that you take your time, generally a week before, to prepare your body for the change. Preparing your body for going to bed earlier a few days before the actual time shift helps ease the adjustment.
R: Routinely Regularize Your Sleep. The best way to reboot and recalibrate is to start setting up a new normal. Sleep helps punctuate the rhythm of your day. It’s important to be strict about when you, and your little ones, will go to bed and wake up, especially for the first month after the time shift.
I: Individualize Your Plan to Adjust. You have to know yourself; know your clock! Being a morning, evening or in-between person affects how you should adjust to this time shift. Morning folks might fare better with this shift because their bodies wake up earlier versus their evening counterparts who tend to stay in bed to get more rest. For evening folks, I suggest you go to bed earlier by an hour to give your body enough time to be fully rested. This means, however, that people who naturally fare better in the evenings must move all their daily activities up earlier by an hour, such as eating and exercising, so they are not activating their bodies and minds too close to bedtime.
N: Nap, But Only if Really Tired. It generally takes people a week to a month to fully adjust to the time shift. During the weeks of adjusting, some may feel more exhausted and it’s ok to take a nap but be sure to limit it to no more than 30 minutes and at least 4 hours before bedtime. Naps beyond this time for any age can disrupt your internal clock and might affect the quality of sleep that night.
G: Gradually Ease Into It. Give yourself enough time to ease into this clock shift. Even though it might feel as if your body is not adjusting well within the first week, it might take longer for various reasons, such as your level of current stress, the weather, and potentially how fit your body is in adjusting to new things. So, be sure to give yourself up to a month to fully adjust. And if you experience serious sleep issues beyond this point and notice it affecting other areas of your life, then you should seek professional help from a doctor or sleep expert.
How to Recreate the Routine for Your Kids After Daylight Saving
We put our son down for his afternoon nap an hour earlier than we usually do to compensate for the time change. He gets up early in the morning regularly and he lost an hour of sleep because of the clocks springing forward. Although it is tempting to put kids down for their nap super early (because true fact, we are all extra tired during this time!), especially with our son being clearly grumpy all morning, our rule of thumb is to stick to the same timing interval as the time change itself. This meant we could put him down an hour early but it also meant that he will wake up a little earlier too.
Over the week following the time change, try to incrementally work your way back to the normal nap and bedtimes by 15 to 30-minute increments. Don’t try to force your kids into the time change cold turkey – that will lead to an indeterminate period of seriously grumpy kids and grumpy days… and nobody wants that!
Watch an interview with Dr. Azizi Seixas discussing how to deal with the Daylight Saving change here.