Feeling fatigued and worn out as you set your clock back an hour for the time change? You’re not alone. The seasonal time change was first adopted in Canada back in 1908 as a way to make better use of the limited sunlight hours into the fall and winter months — but over a century later, many studies have suggested that the time change might have on impact on more than just what time you wake up.
In fact, according to the Sleep Foundation, the transition between Daylight Savings Time and Standard Time can actually delay your sleep-wake cycle, making you feel much more tired and sluggish in the morning and more alert in the evening. This “circadian misalignment” can in turn cause sleep loss, sleep debt and an overall sense of fatigue, and in some cases, depression and cardiovascular issues.
Thankfully, the most immediate effects of the time change will gradually fade away after a few weeks for most people, but getting ahead of the fatigue and potential mood changes will make the season that much more pleasant.
We reached out to a series of experts to get their insights into the best ways to beat daylight savings fatigue before the effects even begin to set in. Here’s what you’ll want to do to ensure optimal energy and happiness into the winter months.
Re-evaluate your lighting at home
Losing an hour of sunlight during the transition from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time can contribute to sleep loss and a lack of vitamin D — but re-evaluating your at-home lighting setup can help to combat both of these negative effects.
“To train your circadian rhythm, try to get as much daylight in the morning and during the day as possible,” says Dr. Frida Rångtell, Ph.D., sleep educator and science advisor at Sleep Cycle. “A few hours before bed, you can do the opposite — dim the lights — to create a light difference between day and night.” This can help you strengthen your circadian rhythm, feel more alert during the day and better prepare yourself for sleep at night.
Sengled Smart Lightbulb ($49.99; amazon.ca)
“I recommend investing in Wi-Fi lightbulbs or timers for your lamps,” says Jody Braverman, NASM-CPT, NASM-FNS, certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist and weight loss coach. “Set them 10 minutes before you need to get up in the morning. I do this all year round and I usually never need an alarm.” Braverman suggests the Sengled Smart Lightbulbs — they might cost more than you’d typically spend on lightbulbs, but they’re long-lasting and help to regulate lighting at home.
Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light ($225.90; amazon.ca)
“The wake-up light by Philips can help readjust our bodies to daylight savings,” says Megan Ayala, nutrition, fitness and health expert at Patricia and Carolyn. “It simulates both the setting and rising sun so you can personalize your sleeping pattern.” Note that unlike an alarm clock that blares an annoying sound and throws you off, this light is designed to wake you up in a natural way so that your mind and body feel at ease.
Verilux HappyLight Therapy Lamp ($119.99; amazon.ca)
We all know that sunlight is an essential ingredient for a healthy lifestyle, but not everyone spends the required amount of time outdoors, especially as the temperature begins to drop. This is where a light therapy lamp comes in.
“I suggest the Verilux HappyLight Therapy Lamp,” says Elizabeth Hicks, co-founder of Parenting Nerd. “With the time change upon us, the sun will set sooner. HappyLight therapy lamp mimics sunlight using full-spectrum light at the equivalent of 10,000 lux. This product helps enhance mood, energy and focus — all without the harmful UV rays.”
Invest in your wellness
The change from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time calls for a more intentional focus on self-care — especially if you tend to find the shorter days draining or if you need something to boost your mood come autumn. Consider fostering healthy habits and self-care practices now to ensure you’re well-equipped by the time change.
Inc. Peter Pauper Press Daily Fitness Journal ($9.99; amazon.ca)
“My forever answer to the question of how to have more energy when the time changes, and any time of the year, is exercise,” says Braverman. “It’s really common to get lazy when the days get shorter. It’s harder to get up in the morning and the couch looks so much more inviting after work than in the spring and summer months. But you mustn’t give in.”
Braverman suggests making a plan now for how you will stay active during the darker days ahead, even if it means tracking your daily fitness journey. She suggests you begin to implement that plan before the time changes so you’re already into the groove before any daylight savings-related disruptions.
Yogi Tea Herbal Tea Variety Pack ($21.81; amazon.ca)
Dealing with daylight savings fatigue requires that you get ample rest. What you eat and drink throughout the day will play a significant factor in deciding how rested you feel. “Stay away from caffeine and alcohol late at night,” suggests Ayala. “If you can’t refrain from drinking, make sure to finish by the evening, so you have enough time to wind down.”
Swapping your evening glass of wine or your mid-afternoon coffee with an herbal tea can help to get your body more adjusted to the time change and the shorter days. Consider picking up a variety pack of herbal tea to turn the experience into a fun ritual — something to look forward to as the sun begins to go down (even if it does start to set at 4 p.m. these days).
Intelligent Change The Five-Minute Journal ($46.21; amazon.ca)
The Five-Minute Journal is going to be the best option for allowing yourself a couple of minutes to reflect and boost your mood in the morning and at night. The popular journal encourages you to think about everything you’re grateful for and what you’d like to achieve throughout the day — this is especially powerful if you tend to suffer from fatigue or seasonal affective disorder during the colder months.
Kitsch Lavender Weighted Satin Eye Mask ($18.33; amazon.ca)
One of the best ways to beat lingering fatigue is simply to make room for additional rest and relaxation. Whether you’re struggling to fall asleep or you just feel you need to take some extra time to recharge, a weighted lavender-scented eye mask will help foster a sense of calm and serenity that’ll help to elevate your mood and energy levels.
“Some form of daily physical activity is also helpful for your health and sleep,” says Rångtell. “Try to keep your activities and habits to regular times. Our bodies like regularity and this routine allows us to be alert and sleepy at appropriate times.” Numerous studies have shown that heading outside and engaging in physical activity can help restore mental energy, release stress and improve sleep quality — all of which are key to getting through the time change unscathed.
Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 50 ($14.86; amazon.ca)
Exposing yourself to the sun will surely help you get rid of any daylight savings fatigue — but you’ll want to ensure you have a face sunscreen on hand. Most experts agree that 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure will help boost your vitamin D levels, but if you plan to stay outside any longer than that, you’ll want to slather on a layer of SPF.
Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot (starting at $96.11; amazon.ca)
“I recommend fitting in outdoor activity between the hours of 10 and 2 whenever possible,” says Braverman. “This is when the sun is strongest (when it’s not overcast, of course) and you can get some much-needed vitamin D.” Braverman suggests running, walking, or going for a hike — whatever you’re able to squeeze into your schedule in this time frame.
A great pair of weather-resistant hiking boots will help you get out there even as the temperature drops. Look for something that can withstand the weather and also offer support and tread should you be dealing with frost or icy sidewalks.
TheFitLife Nordic Walking Trekking Poles ($36.89; amazon.ca)
Taking up a new cold weather outdoor hobby will make getting outside in the sun feel more novel and make working out in the great outdoors a fun activity to look forward to. Consider picking up a set of cross-country skis, trekking poles, or even rollerblades — you’d be surprised by how learning a new activity can boost your mood. Plus, the combination of exercise, sunshine and fresh air will do wonders for your energy level and state of mind as well.
Amazon Kindle ($119.99; amazon.ca)
There’s no right or wrong way to spend time outdoors. If you prefer to take it easy and enjoy the sun on your lunch break, it might be worth investing in a Kindle or other e-reading device. Set a timer for a minimum of 15-minute intervals and allow yourself to read uninterrupted under the sunny (or, more probably, overcast) sky as long as it’s warm enough outside to do so.