5 Easy Ways to Beat the Shorter Days Blues

Health Check 5

sunsetI love the fall, but I still can't help but get a little bit bummed out this time of year -- as the days grow shorter and we approach the end of daylight savings. I mean, when it's pitch black outside at 7 p.m., it makes me feel like I somehow missed a big chunk of my life. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months ... you can see where this is going. Every year the end of daylight savings time sends me straight into existential crisis mode and/or a vitamin D-deficient slump.

But guess what? As it turns out, our bodies are actually thrilled when daylight savings finally ends. That's because our circadian clocks are apparently in sync with the Earth's natural rhythms. (And they are NOT fooled by that false daylight-extending schedule created that we're forced to follow for the rest of the year because a long time ago somebody thought it would save on candle wax or coal or something.)

According to Till Roenneberg, lead chronobiology researcher for a study of the effects of time shifts:

"During the winter, there is a beautiful tracking of dawn in human sleep behavior, which is completely and immediately interrupted when daylight saving time is introduced in March."

He continues:

"When you change clocks to daylight saving time, you don't change anything related to sun time. This is one of those human arrogances, that we can do whatever we want as long as we are disciplined. We forget that there is a biological clock that is as old as living organisms, a clock that cannot be fooled. The pure social change of time cannot fool the clock."

See? Shorter days are good for us -- you just have to adjust. The actual end of daylight savings is one month away (November 4), so spend the next few weeks preparing by:

1. Wake up around the same time every morning -- sleeping in on weekends will just throw you even more off-whack.

2. Wind down in the evening earlier than usual, a little at a time.

3. Gradually make your evening meal earlier, too.

4. Set the DVR for your fave late-night shows.

5. Treat yourself to some new bedding. Cozy sheets make it easy to hibernate!

Pretty simple, right?

Do you get down when the days get shorter?

 

Image via Micky/Flickr

healthy habits, sleep