On Nov. 4, the clocks will fall back for Daylight Saving Time, and you and I will enjoy a glorious extra hour of sleep. But the reality is, even if you're getting one more hour of shut-eye, there's still a change in your body's internal clock that coincides with the fall-back of the clock on your phone, and it can affect you in ways you might not expect. So if you're wondering how to prepare for Daylight Saving Time to ensure you're not completely jet-lagged and out of it, there are definitely ways you can minimize the effects.
And listen, if you're skeptical about how Daylight Saving Time affects your body, I get it. After all, it's only a difference of an hour, and things usually feel like they're back to normal by the very next day, if not sooner. But research has shown that the effects of DST are real, y'all: One study from Finland, for example, compared the rate of strokes in over 3,000 people hospitalized the week after DST, to the rate of strokes in about 11,000 people hospitalized a couple of weeks before or after the DST change. According to a press release from the American Academy of Neurology, the study showed that the overall rate of strokes may increase as much as 8 percent in the days following DST, and that percentage only seems to increase in cancer patients and the elderly.
Study author Dr. Jori Ruuskanen, of the University of Turku, told CNN,
Previous studies have also shown that the disruption of the circadian clock due to other reasons (e.g. due to rotating shift work) and sleep fragmentation are associated with an increased risk of stroke. However, we did not know whether stroke risk is affected by DST transitions. What is common in these situations is the disturbed sleep cycle, while the immediate mechanisms for the increased risk are unknown at the moment.
So no, I'm not saying you have to worry about having a stroke when the clocks change on Nov. 4. But clearly, your body is sensitive to these seemingly subtle changes, so it's worth it to prepare as much as you can. Below, a few experts weigh in on what to do for the smoothest DST transition possible.
"Walking one hour a day, early in the morning, helps you to go to sleep and stay asleep," says Park. "So wake up one hour earlier over the weekend to get your body used to Daylight Saving Time, and use this extra hour to take a quick jog or walk around the neighborhood."
Treat yourself to a bagel on the way, pop in your earbuds and listen to music you love, or a podcast you've been meaning to catch up on, and enjoy those quiet, peaceful mornings, my friend.
Just as you're adjusting your bedtime for DST, it's best to do the same with your eating schedule, says Dr. Sujay Kansagra, a pediatric neurologist at Duke University and Mattress Firm’s sleep health expert. He suggests sticking to especially nutritious foods as your body gets used to the time change, such as plant-based meals and fiber-rich grains. He also tells Elite Daily it's a good idea to cut back a little on sugar and caffeine, at least for the first few days following DST. The goal, he explains, is to eat in a way that supports your energy levels, rather than dampers them.
Additionally, registered dietitian/nutritionist Kristin Koskinen recommends making sure you have plenty of snacks at the ready. "Keep fresh fruit on the counter. Slice veggies and have them stored in glass containers toward the front of the fridge. Make these your choices to take the edge off your hunger while you acclimate to the later meal times," she tells Elite Daily.
"The brain is programmed for a 24-hour day," David Cutler, M.D., of Providence Saint John's Health Center, tells Elite Daily in an email. "And many body functions, in addition to sleep, are altered when our internal clocks are [disrupted]. Appetite, bowel function, [and] heart and lung function are all controlled by the brain’s internal clock."
With that in mind, Dr. Cutler suggests using the fall time change to really relax and take it easy, rather than plan a whole bunch of stuff to fill up that extra hour provided by DST.