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3 Ways to Minimize the Effects of Daylight Savings Time

You head into recovery with grit, determination and a whole lot of commitment, which is successful on some days and super challenging on others. Finding a way to stay balanced and on the right track becomes a careful puzzle of internal resilience, external support, new habits, solid schedules and a focus on self-care that creates a sensation of normalcy and some sort of calm. At the center of it all is the incredible rehabilitating and rejuvenating powers of sleep. In fact, sleep is such an important piece of the puzzle that studies show a disturbance in sleep can lead to a 50% increase in relapse.

So, what do you do when daylight savings wreaks havoc on your zzzzs? Spring ahead and into action by taking decisive steps to reclaim the quality of your snooze!

Side Effects of Daylight Savings

Completely out of your control, the “spring ahead” part of the year can spring you right into anxiety, increased stress and less sleep – all of which leads to even tougher moments of addiction resistance.

If your mind and/or body are feeling the toll of the recent time change, you’re not alone. According to CBS News, we lose an average of forty minutes of sleep when we set the clock ahead, which can result in a slew of side effects, including:

  • Mood disruptions
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Emotionally overreactive
  • Increased irritability
  • Reduction of duration and sleep “efficiency”
  • Increased potential for heart attack or stroke
  • Increased potential for suicide
  • Increased cyberloafing
  • Metabolic alterations

According to clinical psychologist and diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Michael J. Breus, PhD:

“Moving our clocks in either direction changes the principal time cue — light — for setting and resetting our 24-hour natural cycle, or circadian rhythm. In doing so, our internal clock becomes out of sync or mismatched with our current day-night cycle. How well we adapt to this depends on several things.”

How to Reclaim Control

The general idea is that, while adaptation is very individual, it usually takes about a day to adjust to each hour of time change. (However, a German research team believes our bodies never really adjust when we spring ahead.) If you’re feeling the effects of grogginess during the day or trouble sleeping at night, it might be time to take some concrete actions.

To make the most of the daylight savings transition, try these three recommended tips for easing your body through the time change and into better sleep:

  • The influence of light is enormous. Allow yourself access to light as much as possible during waking hours, including immediately upon waking in the morning. Conversely, do not expose yourself to bright light during dark night hours. For example, use a nightlight if you get up in the night rather than turning on harsh lamps or fluorescent overhead lights.
  • Set your internal clock. Training your body when to sleep is essential. Sticking to a dependable sleep routine (sleeping and waking times) helps your body develop a biological clock that controls your sleep and wake rhythms. Choose a time for bed that you know you can commit to every night. To make the adjustment for daylight savings time (or any other reason), shift your schedule in fifteen minute increments until you reach the desired time. For example, over a period of time go to bed fifteen minutes earlier or later until you reach the designated consistent bedtime.
  • Avoid the nap. While feeling tired during the day makes napping seem like a good idea, transitioning through the time change will occur more naturally and effectively if you stave off the urge to lie down in daylight hours. For a quick energizer instead, opt for any type of meditation, breathwork or yoga – all of which stimulate the natural healing powers of the body and its energy centers.
  • When all else fails, don’t force yourself to sleep. The rule of thumb is fifteen minutes: If you are not asleep in a quarter of an hour, get up and out of the bedroom. Stay off the web and any electronic device and instead engage in light housework, reading or listening to an audiobook until you once again feel ready to try to sleep.
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