When the clocks fall back on Sunday, November 5th, many of us will be celebrating with an extra hour of sleep. But once that glorious 60 minutes comes and goes, we’re left to face an uncomfortable truth: our days are about to get a whole lot shorter. Long gone are the 9pm sunsets of high summer. Instead, we’re faced with near-total blackness when we step out of the office at 5pm. It’s enough to make you want to curl up into a ball and hibernate until the summer sun returns.
Sadly, winter hibernation is not an option for most of us. Instead, be proactive and get your mind and body prepared for the shorter days ahead with these handy bits of advice. You’ll thank us when you’re springing out of bed every morning, ready to win the day.
Skip that extra hour of sleep.
On the night the clocks fall back, resist the urge to stay in bed for an extra hour; that’s a guaranteed way to mess with your already-fragile sleep pattern. Instead, use the changing clock to help kick off a new, earlier wake up routine. It’s an effortless way to add an extra hour to your mornings without sacrificing any precious sleep.
Get your sweat on.
Exercise promotes the release of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps our bodies adapt to change and feel awesome. But don’t think a few early morning runs will magically turn your life around. Use this as an opportunity to start a workout regimen you’ll actually stick with.
Manage your expectations.
Half of adjusting is knowing what to expect. Any time change can have an impact on your sleep patterns, which can lead to increased levels of hunger and mood swings, among other effects. Be conscious that if you’re feeling the feels, it’s normal, and your bod just needs to adjust to its new sleep schedule.
Get in your PJs earlier.
It may sound obvious, but one of the easiest ways to avoid feeling like a lump on those dark winter mornings is to go to bed earlier than usual. Getting your bedtime prep out of the way early in the evening is a great way to ensure you don’t hit the sack later than you should. Put the kids in their sleepwear early, too. In fact, make a game of it—everyone in sweats for dinner!
Limit your alcohol consumption.
Alcohol, despite what your grandparents have suggested—a nip of brandy before bed, anyone?— will actually disrupt your sleep habits rather than help.
And same goes for your meals.
The falling temperatures may have you craving big, carb-heavy meals, but avoid the temptation to put yourself into a food coma. You’ll spike your blood sugar levels, for one, and a heavy meal will make your digestive system work overtime.
Remember what we said about exercise?
The long days and warm weather may be behind us, but don’t use that as an excuse to give up on your exercise regimen. If you’re already exercising less than you should be, start with a short walk after dinner and before you settle down for bed. It’ll help you digest and get primed for a restorative sleep.