It’s that time of the year again, daylight savings time. Although most of us enjoy the extra hour of sleep in the mornings, our days will be shortened, and we will have less time to adventure outside.

However, with a bit a preparation and adjustment, you might be pleasantly surprised with the time change.

Here are some useful tips for not “falling back” on your outdoor activities this time of year …

Not a morning person?

Get up and get going. Photo: Courtesy of Nathalie Deiree Mottet/Upsplash

We all have a natural circadian rhythm. It is affected by sunlight and temperature (which go hand and hand). The only way it can be altered is by our sleep patterns.

If you don’t exercise in the mornings, but you’re used to getting up at a certain time, use the daylight savings time change to your advantage. There is a reason why the New York Marathon is always on daylight savings – not to give runners a chance to make to the starting line on time, but rather to give them an extra hour in the morning. You likely will be a bit more tired in the evening (not just because of the caloric output earlier in the day, but also the light.) This should help you get to bed sooner and continue your new routine.

Only Have Time in the P.M.? See and Be Seen

Light up the sky when the sun goes down. Photo: Courtesy of Vincent Guth

If you already have a morning routine and can’t switch your recreating to the A.M., make sure that you have the right tools to keep moving at dusk (or even in the dark).

A simple lightweight headlamp is one of the most useful things money can buy. A far cry from the origins of oil headlamps (and even battery powered ones), many headlamps can be charged with USB. Ultra-lightweight, high adjustable ones like the Petzl BINDI can literally be stored anywhere.

If you are recreating in the dimmer light anywhere near cars, you should always have reflective gear on and be extra careful the first week. Studies have shown that traffic accidents increase (as much as 20 percent) during the first weeks after daylight savings (not just for “spring forward” adjustments, but “fall back” as well). They increase in the fall in the evening, so be careful.

Eat Right. Sleep Right.

Sleep debt is the number one cause of fatigue. Photo: Courtesy of Sanah Suvarna/Upsplash

Many people get shortsighted with “fall back,” thinking that that extra hour gives them carte blanche to stay up late. Sure you get an extra hour, but if you stay up three hours instead, you will mess up your circadian rhythm and ultimately give you “sleep debt,” which can take awhile to equalize (and no, you can’t stack up on sleep to adjust future “sleep debt”).

Most adults need about 7.5 – 8 hours of sleep a night. This is all fine if you’re the type of person who can sleep automatically when getting into bed. But if you find yourself tossing a turning, getting a routine will help. Not looking at a screen for at least an hour before you got to bed can help drastically.

Also, eating. It might seem obvious to avoid caffeine too close to bedtime, but we all need that little reminder. Eating right before sleeping (and eating big, heavy meals) can also cause disturbed sleep. However, certain foods like fish, which contains B6, can actually promote better sleep because it helps produce melatonin.

You can also switch your starches from pastas and breads to more vitamin-rich ones like root vegetables. Any time you can “eat with the local season” (i.e. eat foods that are local to you and in season), your body is likely to retain more nutrients, because the food grown locally tends to be picked later and have more nutrients with less pesticides. The more nutrient-rich your food is, the better you will sleep. It really is that simple.

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