As we move out of summer and into winter we observe the end of daylight saving time, when we set clocks back by one hour and 3am becomes 2am. Although a small change, it impacts on our lives all the same. Here are five pieces of expert advice to see you through the time-shift.
ADJUSTING YOUR SLEEP
Getting enough unbroken, quality sleep is definitely on top of the list when the clocks change.A few minor changes to your bedtime routine can ease the impact. Dr Karyn O’Keeffe, research officer at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre at Massey University advises people go to bed 20 mins later on Friday night and 20 mins later again on Saturday night. Then, aim to get up 20 mins later than usual on Saturday morning and at your usual wake time on Sunday morning. O’Keeffe also suggests those feeling sleepy the following Monday could benefit from a 20-minute power nap.
As tempting as it may be to hibernate in a blanket fortress of solitude with only Netflix and pizza for company, it’s extremely important to reach out to others. “Winter months can mean increases in loneliness, which is one of the major predictors of depression,” according to Dr Jaimee Stuart, co-founder of Infer Consulting and adjunct research fellow at the Victoria University of Wellington. “This is because more darkness hours can mean less socialisation … [and] looking at pictures of your mates on tropical islands are not substitutes for human interaction. Organise a dinner party and drink mulled wine by candlelight in the early dark hours or get out to a movie, play or dinner with loved ones.”
Even if the last thing you want to do is jog in the drizzle, you should push yourself. “Cold temperatures mean people are less likely to exercise which can help release serotonin and endorphins [that] keep us happy and energetic,” explains Stuart. “Getting out of the unnatural light of the office and into the fresh air is going to re-energise the body and reset the brain. No one really melts in a little rain.”
Instead of fighting against it, use the season to your advantage and enjoy things you can only do at this time of year, suggests Dr Sarb Johal, associate professor at the School of Psychology at Massey University. “Get into what you love doing in winter, be that cooking winter food, getting ready for winter sports, or that special cafe with the hot chocolate on a cold morning after walking the dog.”
MONITOR YOUR MOODS
With the onset of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) due to less exposure to daylight, it’s important to watch your mood. “If you find your mood dropping for weeks at a time, talk to your healthcare professional about what you might be able to do to help yourself feel better,” says Johal.