It happens every year in early November, and people who don’t plan for it are left scrambling. No, we’re not referring to the post-Halloween candy sale at your local grocery store. We’re talking about the end of Daylight Saving Time (it’s Saving, not the commonly misreported Savings) and the return of Standard Time.
Everyone notices the change when the sunset arrives an hour earlier, but some parts of the United States feel it more acutely than others. In Orlando, Florida, the sun sets at 5:30 p.m. instead of 6:30. In Seattle, Washington, the sun sets at 4:30 instead of 5:30, and the days will get even shorter all the way until the first day of winter on December 21, which is the shortest day of the year. In certain parts of the country, people who joke about the sun setting shortly after lunchtime really aren’t exaggerating much.
Regardless of where you live, you know better than anyone else how the shorter days will affect you mentally. If they leave you feeling mopey and depressed, you need a plan of action.
It’s not uncommon for people to put on a bit of extra weight in the winter time. It’s hard to feel motivated when the weather is bad, and there’s all that delicious holiday food that isn’t going to consume itself. You don’t have to be one of the die-hard joggers who go on runs in reflective gear at 5 a.m., but it’s a good idea to get some exercise occasionally. Even going to the gym just two or three times a week can do good things for your mental and physical health. Sure, it’s dark outside, but luckily, fitness centers have plenty of lights. In winter, it’s common to get off work at 5 only to see the darkness outside and think you haven’t really accomplished anything. The “fear of missing out” is real. Get to the gym after work to remind yourself that you are definitely doing things with your life.
A lot of things can screw up our body’s internal clock, and changing the external clocks is definitely one of them. The first week after the time change is brutal for offices around the country. Productivity seems to plummet when the clocks move back an hour. You’ll have to wake up at 6:30 a.m. even though your body still thinks it’s 5:30.
This may sound counterintuitive, but making your bed more comfortable when the time changes can actually help you do a better job of both sleeping and waking up when you’re supposed to. Reward yourself with a cozy new goose down comforter that will help you fall asleep within a few minutes of climbing into bed. If you’ve been sleeping on the same cheap pillows for years, it’s time to upgrade to something more supportive. You’ll probably need warmer pajamas for those frigid winter nights as well. Look, getting up on a cold, dark winter day is hard, but it’s easier if you’ve got plenty of rest the night before. Set yourself up for success by climbing out of bed warm and well-rested rather than cold, tired, and cranky.