Today we are going to talk about how to survive the time change. I have a real problem with the time change in the fall. Falling back one hour means that it will now get darker earlier. The week before Christmas it is pitch black by 5 pm. That means I want to go to bed at 6 pm.
As women over 50, we already have sleep issues with hormones so the added time change can really mess with our bodies.
How To Survive The Fall Time Change
For me, the early darkness brings on seasonal depression. With the craziness of the holiday, the depression can get away with you. It is important to acknowledge something as simple as a time change can send you into depression
Signs Of Seasonal Depression
In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Less commonly, people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.
Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Check out my post Dealing With Seasonal Depression for a more in-depth look at SAD as ways to cope.
How To Survive The Fall Time Change
Plan Activities To Help You Stay Awake
Sounds so easy, but the abrupt change in light signs the brain that it is time to sleep. You have to really work on changing that signal or you will be wide awake at 3 am (with me). Plus the colder weather makes you want to snuggle down. On top of that, all the stress and activities associated with the holidays simply wears you out.
- go workout at your local gym
- walk on the treadmill
- work on a holiday project such as a photo book
- get ahead on Christmas decorating/shopping/wrapping/Christmas cards
- plan an activity outside of the home such as movie/dinner or even a walk in a well light park with a friend (safety first!)
Avoid Carb/Sugar Heavy Meals And Drinks At Night
Try to eat a lighter meal for dinner. Heavy carb meals such as pasta will make you sleepy due to your body trying to process all the sugar. Also, avoid sweets because the body has the same problem. This strategy will also help you avoid those extra calories we put on for simply boredom or overeating.
Avoid Heavy Carb/Sugar Meals By
- eating more broth-based soups
- try protein + salad meals
- eating earlier to allow your body to process a heavier meal
- avoid bread at meals
- consider breakfast at dinner with an omelet
- avoid alcohol at dinner
- try bunless burgers or open-faced sandwiches
- eat your heaviest meal during the day
Get Plenty Of Exposure To Sunshine And Fresh Air During The Day
Exposure to sunshine and fresh air will not only help you make adjustments to the time change, but it will also help with seasonal depression. Sun rays trigger the production of serotonin in the brain (our happy sensor). Not only that, but our homes are full of dust, chemicals, and other allergens that can trigger sinus problems. Fresh air is great for heading off a cold or sinus congestion
- activities such a tennis/pickleball/sport
- strolling at festivals/ shops
- outdoor picnic
- start preparing our garden/yard for winter
- if you work, use your lunch hour for a walk in the park
- open the shades/binds in your house and let the light in. If the weather permits the windows too.
Help Reset The Brain By Having A Bed Time Routine
You have worked really hard to stay up later, now let’s reset our brain’s trigger by having a bedtime routine.
- a nice hot bath with scented epsom salts
- invest in comfy pj’s
- use scented lotion to hydrate your body
- watch tv or read a book
- hot herbal teas- no caffeine
- avoid electrical devices such as computers/phones/ iPad
- put aromatherapy oils such as lavender on your pillow
- use an eye mask at night to avoid light that might trigger you to wake
- do not have electrical devices in your bedroom such as phones that might send off push notifications. The light or sound may wake you up
Stay Hydrated During The Day
Getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom is a sign of bladder fullness or even dehydration. Try to drink more water during the day, avoid caffeine and alcohol at least 4 hours before bedtime. Empty your bladder before bedtime.
What To Do If You Wake Up Early (Real Early)
This is my problem. I have worked hard to go to bed later, but my body still thinks I need to get up at 3 am (regardless of the time change). So, use that time to get ahead of the holidays. If possible try to get a small nap during the day so you can make it to a later bedtime. Our bodies need between 6-10 hours of sleep for rest and repair so aim for 8 hours of sleep. As we age we need more (more repair needed). Recent studies have shown a correlation between sleep and weight loss.
I hope how to survive the fall time change post helps you reset your routine and bedtime. These strategies can be continued into the winter to help fight seasonal depression.
Need more ideas on how to get a good night’s sleep? Read Sugar Detox And Sleep- Way To Help You Sleep Better
Tomorrow we will talk about strategies for surviving the holiday shopping season.
*** Last night I made it to 10 pm to go to bed and was up at 4 am. Only 6 hours of sleep. I will try to get a nap today. Working towards 8 hours of sleep to head off any colds.