• Dr. Patty Hlava

Fall Back: 6 Tips for an Easeful Daylight Savings Time Shift

Keep your circadian rhythms strong this season with these 6 tips!

It's here: The time change that comes every fall: the end of Daylight Savings Time. While it's easy to get a little excited about the "extra hour" that we think we're getting, it helps to be mindful of the chaos that this time change can have on our body—and mind!

You might wonder: how can one hour make such a difference?

It has everything to do with our circadian rhythms. You may be familiar with circadian rhythms: the internal clock that we all have that rhythmically moves us through sleep and wake cycles. Our circadian rhythms do more than just regulate our sleep. These rhythms are also responsible for our body temperature cycles, digestion/hunger cycles, and our hormones' production and secretion!

Our body finds alignment in its circadian rhythms when we allow it to follow the sun's natural rhythm: wake a bit before sunrise, go to sleep a bit after sunset. When we tune in to our body's signals, we can feel the call to rest and stillness that comes in the evening.

When we override the rhythms of nature—and the cues of our body—we throw ourselves off balance. Even a one-hour change can wreak havoc on our entire system.

When we adjust the times that we go to sleep and wake up in the morning, we're adjusting everything else as well: when we eat our meals, move our bodies, go to work, and all the routines that weave our days together. A one-hour shift in our daily rhythms can take our bodies up to 10 days to fully adjust.

To further add to the autumn time change challenge, we are transitioning from pitta to vata season from the heat of summer into the unpredictability of fall. The qualities of air and space characterize vata season: it's light, dry, and full of change. Here in Minnesota, it's not unusual to move through rain, snow, high winds, and bright sunshine—all in one week!

Our circadian rhythms are sensitive. We need a daily rhythm. The more aligned our day-to-day is with our natural rhythms, the more we thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally! (If you want to learn more about how to live in alignment with your daily rhythms, check out the Awaken Program!)

The instability in the season's change already adds a layer of strain to our nervous and immune systems, leaving us more susceptible to illness. Add to it the hour time change, and we're priming ourselves for a challenge.

Studies have even determined a 16% increase in car accidents on the first day of the Daylight Savings Time change and 12% more on the second day! It's amazing the difference an hour can make!

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help move through the time change with a little less stress to your system:

  1. Go to bed a little earlier each day, leading up to the time change. Listen to your body and go to bed when your body feels tired. Don't try to stay up later because the clock tells you it's "too early." Your body is wise!

  2. Keep your wake up time early—avoid the temptation to sleep in when morning arrives. Set your alarm for a few minutes before 6:00 AM, and see how your morning and energy changes after one week!

  3. Eat dinner before 6:00 PM. Shift your meal times a few minutes earlier each day before the time change to give your digestive system a chance to adjust to the shift gradually.

  4. Keep your meals simple and nutrient-dense. Cooked vegetables, stews, soups, and one-pot meals with warming spices are easy for your body to digest. When your body doesn't have to work too hard to break down food, it has more energy for other things—like adjusting to the changing world around us, digesting complex emotions, and making sense of why everything is an hour off schedule.

  5. Massage your skin with oil. Vata season is dry. Oil is a great natural moisturizer, and it is soothing to your nervous system. The massage also helps to move the lymph in your body, supporting the process of daily detoxing! Try using sesame oil, jojoba oil, or even almond oil. Your skin will thank you!

  6. Move your body in the morning. Just a few minutes of movement helps wake the body, stimulate your digestion, and improves circulation. It's a powerful way to clear the mind and help the body connect to its wake-cycle and start the day.

Start experimenting with these simple supports, and see how much easier the time change transition can be for you!

If you're looking for more support and are ready to deepen your self-care skills using the gifts of Ayurveda and transformational psychology, let's chat! Schedule a conversation today.

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