Tips for adjusting to the spring time change

Workout Anytime
Greg Maurer

It’s that time of year again – time to “spring forward” and set our clocks forward one hour next Sunday. Resetting clocks in devices is simple. Unfortunately, our body clocks are not nearly as easy to reprogram. This can come with real health consequences. An hour shift does not seem like a lot, but our bodies run on a tight schedule and this one-hour change throws us off.

Scientists have documented that the shift to daylight saving time in the spring, when we lose an hour of sleep, is linked to an a much higher rate of attacks and car accidents.  The change throws off the sleep cycle and that is where all the problems come from.

Over the last 20 years, scientists have documented that, in addition to the master clock in our brains, every cell in our body has a circadian rhythm and time-keeping mechanism. The body and cell’s circadian rhythm help regulate important functions such as sleep and metabolism. And increasingly, there’s evidence that when our habits — such as when we eat and sleep — are out of sync with our internal clocks, it can harm us.

When we disrupt our routines with erratic sleep or eating habits, it can increase the risk of metabolic disease. For instance, overnight shift workers are at much higher risk of developing diabetes and obesity. Research also shows that kids who don’t have set bedtimes and mealtimes are also more likely to become overweight.

Regulating light exposure is key to regulating circadian rhythm. It is the primary signal to turn on the body’s metabolic processes for sleep and rest to active and alert in the morning.

Maximize Exposure to Bright Light During the Day

It is important to maximize your exposure to daylight in the morning. This simple step is every bit as powerful as avoiding blue light at night. Ideally get outside immediately upon waking – just five minutes of outside light can do the trick!

Outdoor sunlight is about 1500 lux on a cloudy and 100,000 lux on a sunny day while indoor lighting typically maxes out at 500 lux!    Bright OVERHEAD light is the primary signal to shut-down melatonin production and wake up.

If it is too cold to go outside consider buying a 10,000-lux light – ideal one that you can set to shine down on your face from above you.

Minimize Evening and Nighttime Light

Exposure to light and electromagnetic fields from computers, phones, tablets, and T.V.’s all act as a stimulant, so it is important to minimize nighttime light exposure and blue light exposure in particular. Blue light comes from artificial lighting. Blue wavelengths – which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood – are disruptive at night. Energy efficient lighting is packed with blue light as are our electronics.

Turn off lights or dim them as much as possible. If you must use a computer or your phone install blue light filtering programs on both that will adjust the amount of blue light emitted by your computer, phone, and tablets. Flux – is a free program for your laptop or tablet and the Twilight app for your phone.  Both allow you to set times and adjust blue light output of your devices automatically based on time of day!

You can also buy blue blocking glasses to use in the evening. This may seem gimmicky but there is research supporting the effectiveness of reducing blue light in the evening through these and other measures!

For night-time bathroom trips use a red-light nightlight as redlight does NOT disrupt sleep which is why you see it used by the military on ships and submarines!

Avoid Alcohol!

Alcohol intake is extremely disruptive to sleep and for many just eliminating it results in much higher sleep quality within a week. Consider cutting down or completely eliminating alcohol intake particularly during the work week!

Stop all food and beverage by 8 p.m.

Ideally stop all food and beverage intake three hours before bed – late food intake can create digestive issues and late beverage intake can force bathroom trips disrupting your sleep.

Stay on a consistent sleep/wake cycle

Get up and go to bed at the same time each day – this trains the body and mind.   It is NOT a good idea to sleep in on weekends – this just disrupts your circadian rhythm.

Minimize caffeine intake after 10 a.m.

There are slow and fast caffeine metabolizers and if you are a slow metabolizer it is critical to stop any and all caffeine intake by 10am!


Yes – it’s true – for many a consistent exercise habit will dramatically improve sleep quality and duration!

Finish your morning shower with a cold shower

While this may seem unpleasant at first cold showers dramatically ramp up the secretion of norepinephrine which is the brains primary stimulant.

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