For the past few weeks, you've probably been enjoying the gentle sunlight streaming into your bedroom in the early hours of the day. There's something about sunshine that makes everything just a little bit better, from taking your dog on her morning walk, to drinking coffee while sitting in the warmth of your window. But these earlier sunrises come with one not-so-great change: the one day per year when you lose an entire hour of blissful sleep without even trying. In anticipation of Daylight Saving Time on March 10, you might be interested to learn how extra daylight affects you, and the truth is, it can actually get pretty weird.
Sleep is a precious, precious thing, and according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, you can expect your regular sleep schedule to be a little off for about five to seven days after the time change. To make the Daylight Saving Time transition a little easier on your body, the organization suggests that you "gradually adjust your sleep and wake times beginning two to three nights before the time change. Shift your bedtime 15 or 20 minutes earlier each night."
Terry Cralle, MS, RN, CPHQ, certified clinical sleep educator and Saatva sleep expert, tells Elite Daily that losing an hour of sleep during Daylight Saving Time can be especially hard on people who generally get less than seven and a half hours of shut-eye each night, or those who wake up early. "The increase in sunlight caused by Daylight Saving Time can have a profound effect on your sleep wellness," she explains. "Light is the chief influencer of the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that plays a major role in regulating sleep/wake cycles." As the amount of daylight shifts, your melatonin levels will also fluctuate, which will impact your sleep.
Your mood can also change a bit as your body starts to adjust to DST, according to Cralle. Since "springing forward" messes with your circadian rhythm — aka your body's inner clock — you might feel sluggish and lethargic as a result. You can work to combat this by exercising a little more than you might normally, and embracing a healthy, balanced diet, suggests Cralle. "As long as you’re aware of it and stay vigilant after the change, your internal clock should catch up with your digital one in no time," she tells Elite Daily.
That being said, more sunshine could mean more happiness in the long run, so soak up as many rays as you possibly can by taking your morning workout outdoors. According to psychiatrist Dr. Nivea Calico, longer daylight hours mean improved energy, rejuvenation, and improved mood. You'll probably notice these benefits most dramatically during the first few weeks of the season change, she tells Elite Daily.
If you have any risk factors for heart disease, you should probably be a little extra vigilant in the days surrounding March 10, says Dr. Mia Finkelston, a board-certified family physician who treats patients via telehealth app LiveHealth Online. "When we get up and rev our bodies for the day a little earlier than normal, it can create added physical stress," she tells Elite Daily in an email. "This added physical stress usually rears its head during the first three weekdays of Daylight Saving Time."
The news isn't all bad, though. Extra sunlight means extra vitamin D, which brings a whole host of health benefits. "Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for the management of bone growth and health, mood support, and management of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis," says naturopathic doctor Dr. Anousha Usman. And the list goes on: Dr. Usman tells Elite Daily that the extra sunshine can also help with allergies, hives, depression, migraines, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, IBD, and more. Instead of taking those early-morning rays for granted, try to soak in all of the sun's goodness by eating breakfast by a window, or even by walking part of the way to work.
If you're worried about how your body's going to handle the time change, Beth Shaw, CEO/founder of YogaFit and registered nutritional counselor, says it might not be a bad idea to start a yoga practice, or get more involved in yours if you already have one, as the movements can help your body with the transition. "Yoga can be an incredibly restorative and restful practice before bedtime," she tells Elite Daily.
And BTW, if you're pressed for time in your schedule as it is, you don't have to do anything super rigorous or intense in your yoga routine, says Shaw. You can even work in some poses while staying in your bed. "Some of my favorites are simply drawing the knees to the chest, at once or separately, and savasana — lying on your back with your hands resting by your side," she tells Elite Daily.
If nothing else, remember that Daylight Saving Time means spring — and warmer weather — is just around the corner.