Find Your Rhythm During Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time Takes Place this Year on Sunday, March 12th.
Versions of daylight saving time (DST) have been in use since early times when the people of ancient civilizations adjusted their daily schedules to the sun's schedule. Currently, DST is practiced in over 70 countries worldwide.1
Shifting your clock forward by an hour, this year on March 12th, hints at longer beautiful spring and summer days and the chance to spend more time basking in the sunshine. Unfortunately, the transition is not always as easy as it seems. Even an hour time change can mess with your body’s 24-hour natural cycle. Cued by light, it is called the circadian rhythm.
Ideally, we rise with the sun and slow down as the sun sets in anticipation of darkness and sleep. We can see just how much our internal clock is set to the rising and falling of the sun when, suddenly, we jump forward an hour.
It can take about a week for the body to adjust to the time change, not just for sleeping, but for meal times and other activities as well. Until we have adjusted, we can have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up at the right time. This can lead to sleep deprivation, reduction in performance, and may increase the risk for making mistakes. This is especially true when you skip forward in the spring, essentially losing an hour out of your day.2
Daylight saving time occurs during the kapha season (spring), when cool, heavy, and moist qualities are most prominent both in our environment (think thick, gooey mud) and in many people’s bodies—a good reminder that humans mirror the qualities found in nature. As a result, you may feel more lethargy, heaviness, and dullness, especially if you have a significant amount of kapha in your constitution. Experiencing DST and the kapha season simultaneously can also drive vata and pitta predominant people out of balance. In Ayurveda, opposites create balance, so this is the time to choose lighter foods and more “yang” or stimulating activities to counterbalance the heaviness of the season.
Committed to tackling daylight saving time before the clock strikes midnight? Here are seven steps to set your body’s clock forward and get back in rhythm following simple Ayurvedic principles.
Go to bed early. If you normally get to sleep by 10 p.m. (the ideal time, according to Ayurveda), on March 12th, 10 p.m. will feel like 9 p.m.—I know, it’s confusing! This may result in being tempted to burn the midnight oil, which could leave you feeling foggy for the next day or so. Instead, about three days prior to DST, gradually start going to bed 20 minutes earlier each night. Using 10 p.m. as an example, go to bed at 9:40, then 9:20, then 9 the days leading up to DST.
Herbal formulas can help you relax and sleep. I Sleep Soundly tablets may be especially helpful for fostering deep rest during the time change. Other sleep suggestions include turning the lights and computer screens off at least a half hour prior to bedtime, finishing a light dinner three hours before hitting the sack, taking a warm bath, and diffusing relaxing essential oils such as lavender, jasmine, or rose geranium (any floral scent will work) in your bedroom. I keep a diffuser on my nightstand and find the gentle fragrant scents extremely relaxing year-round.
Wake up early. The same goes for the three days prior to DST—gradually move up your waking time by 20 minutes as well. Ideally, this would be at 6 a.m.—before you start to feel the weighty pull of kapha, which is prominent from 6–10 a.m. If you get out of bed as close to 6 a.m. as possible, you will feel more energized, and light and lively throughout your day. One of Ayurveda’s best known herbs to help you adapt to the time change is Ashwagandha, and one of my favorite formulas to engage my brain in the morning is Mental Clarity.
Shift your meal times. This means eating 10–20 minutes earlier each day, until you have shifted your meal times to an hour earlier by DST.
Eat lighter foods. Since this is also the kapha time of year, heavier foods can feed into feeling lethargic. The time shift can amplify that imbalance if you don’t pay attention to your food choices. Choose seasonal foods that are lighter and dryer in nature.
Eat clean. This is especially helpful the few days before and after the time change. Eliminate or at least reduce caffeine, and do away with alcohol and processed sugar, which tax your system. Eating lighter foods will also naturally help you to eat a cleaner seasonal diet.
Spend time outdoors. It’s especially helpful to be outdoors in the morning, as close to sunrise as possible. Even a brisk walk around your neighborhood will benefit you. The morning sun will reset your circadian rhythm and the exercise will increase your circulation and help you to be more alert.
Practice Kapalabhati Pranayama. Also known as Skull Shining Breath, this is a rapid rhythmic breath with equal emphasis on the inhale and exhale. The technique will energize you and increase alertness, among other benefits. Add this to your morning routine shortly after waking up.
The time change reminds us that if we do live in harmony with the rhythms of Mother Nature, she will be kind to us. It’s also a great opportunity to transition into balancing routines for the spring season. Essentially, incorporate kapha balancing guidelines, and shift the time you do your daily routine a few days before March 12th to help you to stay in stride!