Six ways to survive the change to Daylight Savings Time.
Nothing brings out a parent’s mixed feelings more than Daylight Savings Time.
On the one hand, you love the extra hour of shut-eye during the fall and the spare daylight at the end of the workday in the spring. However, jostling sleep schedules, managing irritability, and helping your children recover from the time change can be a challenge.
This year, plan to spring forward on Sunday, March 13, 2016, at 2 am local time, but before you set those clocks ahead and bemoan that lost hour of sleep, take heart. There are things you can do to minimize the disruption and get everybody’s Circadian rhythm back on track.
1. Give yourself an extra hour. Take time on Sunday evening to make lunches, set out clothing for your family, and prep breakfast items before you go to bed. Most likely, the sun won’t be there to help you get things moving in the morning as it has been all winter long-it will seem much too early to be up and about. The more you can do at night to minimize the chaos the next day, the more relaxed you’ll be as you head into the week.
2. Hit the sack early. If possible, encourage your children to head to bed a half-hour early during the week, and then try to follow suit. Even if your kids aren’t tired, you can help them wind down by turning off digital devices, dimming the lights, reading them a story, and letting them have some quiet time a bit earlier than usual. Chances are that you’re fairly sleep deprived as well, so giving yourself extra time to unwind will help you fall asleep more quickly and stave off sluggishness the next day. Turn off your computer and television, keep your room dark and cool, and try deep breathing exercises to relax.
3. Embrace the morning sun as soon as it’s up. Exposing yourself to bright sunlight stimulates your brain and encourages your body to get moving. Open the drapes, head outside for a morning walk, or drink your cup of Joe near a window. If you can’t enjoy the sun before you head to work for the day, take a mid-morning break and go outside for a few minutes. The cool air and bright light will help invigorate you right through to the lunch hour.
4. Eat your energy. Try to increase your family’s intake of energy-boosting foods. Oats and berries or eggs in the morning, fruit and nuts as snacks, and high-protein foods at lunch and dinner (think lean meats, beans, and veggies) will keep your blood sugar level and help with concentration and energy.
And be careful with your caffeine consumption. You may be tempted to down extra shots of espresso, but be forewarned that too much of a good thing can leave you anxious and jittery. No more than two cups of coffee a day is what most experts suggest.
5. Be gentle with yourself. Studies show that it may take a week or more for your body to adjust to the time difference, so cut yourself some slack and indulge in that well earned nap. Hire a babysitter for an hour for a few days, enlist a friend’s help, or trade off with your spouse. Your family will function better if the adults aren’t in the same sleepy funk as the kids. If you have a baby or toddler, put her down for an early nap to ease her into the new schedule – even 15 minutes can make a difference over the course of a week.
6. Head outside in the evening. Take advantage of that extra hour of daylight in the evening to get some much needed fresh air and exercise. Grab the kids and sneak in 30-40 minutes – enough time to make a significant impact in your overall health. Plus, letting the kids walk off evening wiggles will help them get ready for bed sooner, and encourage healthy habits for the rest of the year.