Spring is well and truly here, and I’m almost completely certain that we are all welcoming it with open arms! There’s a small catch though- as at next Monday, if you're in the UK, you’ve got to wake up a whole hour earlier. That might not seem like a big deal, but research has proven that it is. In fact, studies have proven that there’s a noticeable spike in road traffic accidents on the Monday following the Sunday that clocks get rolled back.
The earlier start affects our natural circadian rhythms (a.k.a internal body clock) and may actually go completely against what experts such as Paul Kelley, of the University of Oxford’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute recommends, that is, a later start to our school and work days. Back in September 2015, The Guardian quoted Kelley as saying that ignoring circadian rhythms of children and adults alike “causes serious threats to health, mood performance and mental health." What’s more, many experts have concluded that this whole daylight savings thing is, at least nowadays, completely useless! But I digress; let’s look at a few simple ways you can get your mind and body up running at their optimal (or very nearly anyway) so you can enjoy what’s arguably the prettiest season of all.
Ease into it
Expert opinions suggest that helping your body to adjust gradually is the best course of action. One circadian expert, Greg Murray, advises moving clocks forward 15 minutes each day during the days preceding the time switch, while avoiding caffeine after midday and alcoholic beverages in evening hours. He also recommends that you get as much bright light exposure as possible in the first part of the day, but avoid it late in the day.
The longer spring days mean we have more time to enjoy the benefits of being outside. It’s long been proven that fresh air and sunshine positively impact emotional wellbeing, alertness and energy. Walking even just for 10 minutes helps combat fatigue, ease stress and release those happy hormones (a.k.a endorphins). So, give yourself permission to take a breather from all that multi-tasking and go for a walk during your lunch break or after work.
Listen to your body
In the first few days after the time switch, go with how you feel. If you’re feeling low in energy and a bit tired, don’t cram your day with intensive or very important activities. If you’re finding it hard to get through your day, try just sitting for a bit. You heard me- stop what you’re doing, and just be. It has been purported that sitting motionless in a comfy chair and simply allowing your mind to drift, perhaps while looking out a window, helps boost your energy levels.
Get some fuel
If the au naturel route isn’t for you, it’s good to note that research has shown that having small amounts of caffeine often throughout the day (we’re talking quarter cup of coffee/tea) has a better effect on your alertness than taking in larger amounts less frequently.
Stock up on crunchy snacks
If you’re still fighting the urge to catch a snooze, grab a handful of nuts, a carrot, or any other food with a similar crunch factor. It may sound strange, but eating these kinds of foods that make your facial muscles work is said to help make you feel more awake.
In any case, the good news is you should be recovered from the effects of the time change within the first week of it taking effect. Whatever you do, enjoy Spring – you deserve it!