Don’t Skip A beat! – Find Your Rhythm During Daylight Savings Time
Daylight Savings Time Takes Place this Year on Sunday, March 12
Some version of Daylight Savings time (DST) has been in use since early times when ancient civilizations would adjust their daily schedules to the sun’s schedule. In current times, DST is now in use in over 70 countries worldwide. 
Shifting your clock forward by an hour, this year on March 12, brings to mind longer, beautiful spring and summer days and the chance to spend more time basking in the sunshine. Unfortunately, the transition is not always as easy as it sounds. Even an hour time change can mess with your body’s 24-hour natural cycle. Cued by light, it is called the circadian rhythm.
According to Ayurveda, the body’s natural state mirrors that of nature, which accounts for our circadian rhythm. Ideally, we rise with the sun, and slow down as the sun sets in anticipation of darkness and sleep. We see just how much our internal clock is set to the rising and falling of the sun when we all of the sudden jump forward an hour.
It can take about a week for the body to adjust to the time change, not just for sleeping, but for meal times and other activities as well. Until we have adjusted, we can have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up at the right time. This can lead to sleep deprivation and reduction in performance, increasing the risk for mistakes including vehicle crashes. This is especially true when you skip forward in the spring, essentially losing an hour out of your day.
Daylight Savings Time occurs during the Kapha season (spring), when cool, heavy and moist qualities are most prominent both in our environment (think thick, gooey mud…) and in many people’s bodies, because humans mirror the qualities found in nature. As a result, you may feel more lethargy, heaviness and dullness, especially so if your dosha is kapha. Experiencing DST and the Kapha season simultaneously is enough to even drive true Vatas and Pittas out of balance. Because opposites create balance according to Ayurveda, chose lighter foods and more “yang” or stimulating activities.
Committed to tackling Daylight Savings Time before the clock strikes midnight? Here are seven steps to set your body’s clock forward and get back in rhythm following simple ayurvedic principles:
- Go to Bed Early… If you normally get to sleep at 10 (ideal time according to Ayurveda) on March 12 10pm will feel like 9 pm – I know, it’s confusing! As a result, you may be tempted to burn the midnight oil, which may leave you feeling foggy the next day or longer. Instead, about three days prior to DST, gradually adjust to an earlier bed time in 20 minute increments. Using 10pm as an example, go to bed at 9:40, then 9:20, then 9 the days leading up to DST. Herbal formulas to help you relax and sleep include Banyan’s “I Sleep Soundly”. Other sleep suggestions include turning the lights and computer screens off at least a half hour prior to bedtime, finishing a light dinner three hours before hitting the sack, taking a warm bath and diffusing relaxing essential oils such as lavender, jasmine or rose geranium (some sort of floral scent.) in your bedroom. I keep a diffuser on my nightstand, and find the gentle, fragrant scents extremely relaxing year-round. If you are naturally prone to an “early to bed and early to rise” pattern, you will adjust easier because the time shift follows your usual tendencies. Conversely, if you typically keep to a “late to bed and late to rise” routine it will be more difficult for you. If so, you may want to adjust to an earlier bedtime starting about a week prior to DST, at 10 minute increments each day.
- Wake up early – The same goes for three days prior, gradually move up your waking time by 20 minutes as well. Ideally, according to Ayurveda, this would be at 6am, before you start to feel the weighty pull of kapha, from 6-10am. If you get yourself out of bed as close to 6am as possible, you will feel more energized, light and lively throughout your day. One of Ayurveda’s best known herbs to help you adapt to the time change is Ashwagandha. One of my favorite formulas to engage my brain in the morning is Mental Clarity.
- Shift your Meal times as well following the same format. This means eating a bit earlier each day by 10-20 minutes until you have shifted your meal times to an hour earlier by DST.
- Eat Lighter Foods. Since this is also the Kapha time of year, heavier foods will feed into feeling lethargic regardless. The time shift can amplify that imbalance if you don’t pay attention to your food choices. Choose seasonal foods that are lighter and dryer in nature.
- Eat Clean, especially the few days before and after the time change. Eliminate or at least reduce caffeine, and do away with alcohol and processed sugar, which tax your system. Following tip #4 will also naturally help you to eat a cleaner, seasonal diet.
- Spend Time Outdoors, especially in the morning, as close to sunrise as possible. Even a brisk walk around your neighborhood will benefit you. The morning sun will reset your circadian rhythm and the exercise will increase your circulation and help you to be more alert.
- Practice Breath of fire, also known as Kapalabhati. This is a rapid rhythmic breath with equal emphasis on the inhale and exhale. The technique will energize you and increase alertness among other benefits. Add this to your morning routine shortly after waking up.
The time change reminds us that if we do live in harmony with the rhythms of Mother Nature, she will be kind to us. It’s also a great opportunity to transition into balancing routines for the spring season. Essentially, incorporate Kapha balancing guidelines, and shift your daily routines forward a few days before March 12 to help you to stay in stride!