Healthy Living

Daylight Savings Time: Time Travel, Zombies, and Heartache…

changing-daylight-savings-timeSo I’m wondering if I’m the only one out there that really struggles with Daylight Savings time. It’s been a week and I’m finally adjusting, but for the first four days I can’t get to sleep at my regular time. I go to bed but I lay there tossing and turning for almost two hours which seems odd, since we’ve only lost one hour. The next day when my alarm goes off at the normal 6 AM I can’t drag myself out of bed. All day long I’m finding it difficult to focus and get much done.

On Sunday when it first changed I made the unpardonable sin of going in at 1 PM and taking a nap. An hour later, I tried to get up but couldn’t and then when I did I was in a fog the rest of the day. Seeing the issue with this, I swore that I wasn’t going to take a nap no matter how tired I became. Well, Monday I didn’t go lay down but I’m pretty sure about 11 AM I dozed at my computer because I lost an hour somewhere that day, and spent the rest of it in a zombie-like trance. It wasn’t until the fourth day that I started getting to sleep within an hour of my regular bedtime. Still only averaging about 6 1/2 hours of sleep a night instead of my normal 7 1/2-8 hours. What the heck. It’s only an hour time change. Why is this so difficult for me?

I did a little research to see how long it takes the average person to adjust to a one hour time change. Most articles said 3-4 days but agreed that many people can be like me and take a full week. When I was researching this topic there was an article that caught my attention in the New England Journal of Medicine by Imre Janszky, M.D., Ph.D. titled “Shifts to and from Daylight Saving Time and Incidence of Myocardial Infarction” (or heart attacks)

Scientists at Karolinska Institute have examined how the incidence of myocardial infarction in Sweden has changed with the summer and winter clock-shifts since 1987. Their results show that the number of heart attacks, on average, increases by about five percent during the first week of summer time. It’s always been thought that it’s mainly due to an increase in stress ahead of the new working week,” says Dr Janszky. “But perhaps it’s also got something to do with the sleep disruption caused by the change in diurnal rhythm at the weekend.”

I always knew that this spring forward an hour was bad for me in so many ways but this research surprised me. I’ve had several people give me suggestions over the years on how to adjust quicker to a time change. Especially the really big ones like when I’ve traveled to Eygpt, Israel, New Zealand or India. Here’s what I’ve learned.

First always try to eat at the time you would normally eat your meals. Like even if it’s the middle of the night for your system but it’s 7 AM in the country that you’re visiting, then eat breakfast. Eat lunch at noon and dinner at six if that’s what you would normally do. The sooner you can eat at a normal time, the quicker your body will adjust.

Next stay up through the day when you first arrive in that city. Most international flights seem to arrive in the new time zone in the morning even though your system says it’s the middle of the night. Don’t go to your hotel and crash like you want to. Find something engaging to do and stay up until 9 or 10 at night. Then set your alarm to get up at your normal time and do the same thing the next day. Don’t take a nap during the day even though you really want to. Within a few days you will be on the new time zone (many times just in time to head back home).

Exercise is also really good to wake up your system and get it quickly on the new time zone. My favorite time to workout is between 7-9 AM. So whenever it’s possible I try to do that even on a trip. I find this is the very best way for my body to transition to the new time.

If nothing seems to be working I’ve had a friend give me a natural supplement Melatonin that I have taken a half hour before bed to help me get to sleep when I’m having a particularly difficult time. That has helped me to naturally slip off to sleep and makes it easier to get up on time.

Even with all these tips I seem to struggle more than others with this time change and the ones I have when I travel which I love to do. If anyone out there has additional tips I would love to hear them.

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carla meine

carla meine

Writer and expert

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