Embrace the darkness: 5 ways to get ready for the fall time change


by Baylor Scott & White Health

Oct 25, 2023

After a scorching summer, it’s finally feeling like fall in Texas. Mornings are cool and crisp, the leaves are starting to change colors, coffee shops are pouring pumpkin spice lattes, and Halloween candy is front and center in grocery stores.

Autumn also means the end of daylight saving time, that annual ritual where we set our clocks back one hour. This year, daylight saving time ends on Sunday, Nov. 5. While gaining an extra hour over a weekend to sleep in or spend time with family may sound wonderful, the time change can take a toll on your routine. But with a little preparation and some practical strategies, you can smooth the transition to cooler, shorter days.

Here are five ways you can prepare for the upcoming end of daylight saving time.

1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule

Changing the clocks can wreak havoc on your sleep routine. The abrupt shift in time can disrupt your circadian rhythms, the 24-hour cycles that regulate processes like sleep-wake patterns, hormone production and body temperature. Circadian rhythms are affected by cues like light and darkness, so the sudden change in time can throw them off, making it harder for some people to get the sleep they need.

To avoid this, start adjusting your sleep schedule gradually a week or so before the clocks fall back. Go to bed and wake up 15-30 minutes earlier each day until you've aligned your body with the new time. For example, if you’re accustomed to going to bed at 11 PM and rising at 7 AM, start fine-tuning your schedule by moving lights out to 10:45 PM and waking up at 6:45 AM. This gradual shift will help your body adjust to the time change without feeling too groggy.

2. Make the most of the extra morning light

With shorter days, it's important to maximize your exposure to natural light. This can help regulate your body's internal clock and improve your mood. One of the perks of the end of daylight saving time is that you get to enjoy extra daylight in the morning. Take advantage of this by scheduling morning activities such as a brisk walk, yoga or meditation. This will help you start your day with energy and positivity, setting the tone for the rest of the day.

Try, too, to spend some time outside during the day, even if it's just for a short walk during your lunch break. If you can't get outside, consider investing in a light therapy lamp to help mimic natural light and boost your mood. And if you work from home, set up your workspace near a window to get some natural light throughout the day.

3. Be mindful of your mental health

The end of daylight saving time can impact your mental health, particularly if you struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). To combat this, make sure you're taking care of your mental health. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as taking up a new hobby, practicing mindfulness or spending quality time with loved ones. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga.

Decorating your home with touches that make you feel happy and peaceful can also boost your mental health on colder, darker days. Consider adding warm and inviting decor, like blankets and throw pillows, to create a cozy ambiance. Ensure your space is well-lit with soft, warm lighting to counteract the early onset of darkness.

4. Stay active

The change in time shouldn't be an excuse to hibernate indoors. Regular exercise is important for overall health and wellbeing, but it can be particularly beneficial during the transition from daylight saving time. Exercise can help regulate your sleep patterns, boost your mood and keep your immune system strong. Bundle up and continue to enjoy outdoor activities. Whether it's hiking, biking or simply going for a walk in the crisp autumn air, staying active outdoors can boost your mood and keep you physically fit.

If you struggle to find the motivation to exercise outside during the dark evenings, consider trying a new indoor workout like yoga or Pilates. Or join a gym or workout class. Who knows? You might make some new friends who’d like to grab a pumpkin latte with you after your sessions, too.

5. Practice gratitude

As you prepare for the end of daylight saving time and the beginning of cooler weather in Texas, take a moment each day to practice gratitude. Reflect on the small victories and joys in your life. Finding gratitude in everyday moments can be a powerful tool for maintaining a positive mindset.

Bear in mind that the end of daylight saving time is not just a matter of changing clocks; it's a chance to adapt and find everyday victories in the shifting seasons. By adjusting your routines, embracing the cozy aspects of fall and winter, and nurturing your physical and mental well-being, you can make the most of this time of transition. Any change, including this one, can present an opportunity for growth and renewal.

Above all, be patient with yourself. Adjusting to the end of daylight saving time may take a while, so don't get discouraged if you feel a bit off for a few days. Be kind to yourself and focus on taking care of your body. And remember, spring will be here before you know it, and we'll be back to longer days and more sunlight.

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