Clocks “fall back” on Sunday, Nov. 6, meaning the loss of an hour of daylight at the end of the day.
“One of the toughest things about falling back is heading home in darkness after leaving work or after-school activities at a normal time,” said Amber Olson, regional director for Memorial Behavioral Health clinical operations.
However, Olson and other Memorial Health experts said there are tips to ease the adjustment.
Find 20 minutes of sunshine to add to your daily schedule. Use your breaks or lunch hour to take a walk outdoors to soak up available sunshine, or head out before your day begins to take advantage of the sunrise.
“We tend to spend more time indoors when the days are shorter and the weather turns cold, which further limits our exposure to sunlight,” Olson said.
But as little as 20 minutes of sunlight a day can provide your body with the necessary serotonin to help regulate your mood, Olson said. Use weekends or days off to catch up on outdoor chores or add fun activities like hiking, sledding or even building a snowman if the weather cooperates.
Pay attention to your eating habits.
Another challenge in falling back is the change to our normal eating schedules. Eating meals can be problematic when your body doesn’t “feel” hungry yet. There can also be a tendency to eat more later at night.
“Try to stick with your normal eating pattern during this transition,” said Shae Mowry, a dietitian with Memorial Wellness Center. “If you experience hunger pangs, answer by pairing fiber with protein at mealtime and snacks. Although comfort foods like refined carbohydrates or higher-fat foods like sweets or chips can sometimes sneak their way into your day, they won’t fuel your body.”
Foods with fiber and protein include an apple paired with low-fat cheese slices or natural peanut butter; whole eggs; fish-based meals, nuts, low-fat cottage cheese, chicken breast and light yogurt. Avoid larger servings of pasta or other carb-heavy entrees later in the day.
Sleep is crucial. Start now to adjust your sleep schedule to the time change in increments of 15 or 20 minutes to acclimate your body to falling back an hour. Short 20- to 30-minute naps can help, but avoid the temptation of sleeping for hours in the middle of the day, which can throw off your body’s rhythm.
Finally, remember – time change or not, keep a regular sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. Create a restful environment before bedtime. Turn off the cellphone or television at least an hour before going to sleep. Avoid big meals or alcohol later at night. Allow your body to transition into the new routine.