Daylight savings time is a complicated issue. Ben Franklin proposed it a few hundred years ago, and the fact that we still adhere to it (well, most of the United States does) can be disagreeable by some. It’s not uncommon to overhear discussions around how relevant it is in today’s day and age the impact it can have on areas of life such as relationships and mental health.
Yup, that’s correct. It all starts with our circadian clocks. Circadian rhythms are created through a coordinated response to different factors involving hormones and chemical signals. The factors are as diverse as temperature, light, feeding, and more. It’s one of the miraculous things our body does to keep everything running in the best possible shape, from our brains to our metabolism. Psychology Today compares it to an orchestra: when all the instruments play in harmony, it sounds great. When one trumpet is off, the whole thing falls apart.
Although we are only losing a single hour, it has shown to have a surprisingly large effect on our body’s ability to achieve homeostasis. Heart attacks increase by 10% the week after daylight savings, and increases in traffic accidents, workplace incidents, and it takes people up to one whole week to adjust to the time switch. Overall, it’s also thought to have a negative effect on depressive personalities as well (Denmark has seen an 11% increase in hospitalizations related to depression in the days immediately following daylight savings).
So, with the date to *spring ahead* looming, what steps can be taken to avoid relationship troubles around this time? Here are our relationship tips for making it through spring daylight savings time:
1. Try re-calibrating a little bit at a time
Losing an hour might not sound like much...until it’s time to wake up at 5am vs. 6am (or so you feel) for work. Start changing your wake-up time little by little. Switch your alarm to go off 10 minutes earlier, then 20, then 30, and so on until daylight savings hits and you’re already used to the time change. This allows your body to adapt more slowly and is less of a shock for your circadian clock. Bring your family into the fold to help you both stay in sync.
2. Try working out first thing in the morning
There are a few advantages to this. Firstly, it’ll help you wake up even more quickly and start your day with endorphin's. You’ll be in a better mood and more patient with others who may not be adjusting quite as easily (assuming they don’t share your early morning motivation). Secondly, the gym will be way less crowded. And those bright lights will help ease your transition to daytime.
3. Develop a new bedtime routine
“Sleep hygiene” refers to creating a sleep-friendly nighttime routine. Essentially, it should include relaxing activities, avoiding the blue light from tablets and smartphones, and reducing/eliminating caffeine and alcohol before bed. If you live with someone else, get them onboard with this new pattern of talking with each other, playing a game, or reading together to start putting you in the mood for R & R.
Our relationships tend to get the best and brunt of our emotions. Try to keep the sleepy brunt at bay this spring. Do your best to be aware of yourself and your feelings in the week after daylight savings time. Refer back to our tips to help you through the transition, and we’ll see you on the other side.