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Daylight Savings - Friend or Foe?

daylight savings morning sunrise in a field
Daylight savings can be an adjustment for families no matter what season

Whether it's the time of year for "springing forward" or "falling back," one thing is for sure - our family and daylight savings don't always mix. There are benefits to both (more daylight! / extra hour?!) but DSL has been shown to impact our circadian rhythms, which can have adverse effects on our mood, sleep and hormone levels. In the fall, if you already have depressive symptoms or another mood disorder, your chances of experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder can also increase. Less sunlight can cause decreased mood, loss of energy, increased anxiety, increased irritability and difficulty concentrating. Read more about SAD and beating the "winter blues" in another blog post here.

Even in the spring, when we gain extra daylight, it can still be difficult for our bodies to adjust to the changes brought on by DLS. We might notice our fertility, energy, sociability and weight can be affected by this shift. Most notably, transitioning our kids to DLS can disrupt sleep patterns and daily routines resulting in overtired families and stressed-out parents.

Whether moving the clocks forward or backward, here are some tips to help you and your family adjust more smoothly:

  1. Gradual Adjustment: Adjust bedtime and wake-up times gradually in the days leading up to the time change. Shift schedules by 15 minutes earlier/later each day to ease into the new time.

  2. Increase Exposure to Natural Light: Encourage exposure to natural light, especially in the morning. Natural light helps regulate the body's internal clock and can aid in adjusting to the new schedule.

  3. Limit Exposure to Screens Before Bed: Reduce screen time at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.

  4. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Establish a calming bedtime routine to signal to the body that it's time to wind down. This routine can include activities like reading, taking a warm bath, or listening to soft music.

  5. Darken the Bedroom: Ensure the bedroom is conducive to sleep by using blackout curtains or shades. A dark sleeping environment can help signal to the body that it's time to rest.

  6. Stay Active During the Day: Engage in physical activity during the day to promote better sleep at night. Exercise can help tire the body and contribute to a more restful sleep.

  7. Maintain a Consistent Wake-Up Time: Aim to wake up at the same time each day, even after the time change. Consistency in waking up helps regulate the body's internal clock.

  8. Be Patient and Flexible: Recognize that it may take a few days for your body to fully adjust to the new time. Be patient and flexible during the transition period.

Remember that individual responses to time changes can vary. Pay attention to your body's cues and adjust your routine based on what works best for you and your family. Consistency and gradual adjustments are key to a smoother transition during daylight savings. Cut yourself (and your kids!) some slack as our bodies work hard to adjust to a new schedule.


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