Getting Over the Daylight Savings Hump

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

In just a few short weeks, we’ll be switching our clocks to Daylight Savings Time, and in the process, losing a precious hour of sleep. This time shift disrupts our circadian rhythm—the body’s built-in biological clock. Practically all of the animals and plants on Earth run on this invisible 24-hour clock, give or take an hour. While some people are completely unaffected by this loss of an hour, others become walking zombies for the next day or two—or even longer. 

Just like it’s harder on the body to adjust when flying east than flying west, it’s harder to “spring forward” than it is to “fall back.” This is because the body’s natural tendency is to stay asleep later than it is to fall asleep earlier. So going to bed an hour earlier than usual to try to make up that hour of sleep you’re missing out on when the clocks change doesn't always work. You may end up simply lying awake an extra hour.

With that said, there are a few things you can do to help your body adjust to the time change in a few weeks:

  • A few hours before you go to bed, dim the lights in your house.
  • When you do go to bed, make sure it's in complete darkness. Even the light of an alarm clock or cable box can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin, which affects the quality of your sleep. 
  • Immediately after awakening, expose yourself to light by opening up the blinds or going outside. This helps your body readjust its circadian rhythm.
  • I’m not necessarily a coffee lover, but honestly, that cup of coffee in the morning—especially after a time change—can really get you going.

In more extreme situations, when you really need a lot of help in resetting your body’s internal clock, special glasses called Re-Timer Glasses can be helpful. These glasses beam a soft green light at the proper wavelength and intensity to reset the body’s 24-hour internal clock.

The glasses have been tested and found to be effective in reversing jet lag, reducing the fatigue and disruption of shift work, and retiming the body clock to a specified sleep schedule. They're basically an empty frame that fits like a pair of sunglasses without any lenses. You are able to wear them with glasses and while reading, walking around, working on the computer, etc. They have a rechargeable battery built into the frame and small lights that shine at an angle toward your eyes.

It is recommended that you wear the glasses for 50 minutes daily for three days, either after waking in the morning to advance the body clock or before bed to delay the body clock and wake up earlier.

Now it’s your turn: What do you do to adjust to time changes?

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