It’s just an hour – so why is Daylight Savings such a shock to the system?
Daylight Savings significantly increases your risk of a car crash – Crash hour: clock change leads to a surge in car accidents as drivers adapt, heart disease and depression too – Measurable health effects associated with the daylight saving time shift. It’s worse if you’re a natural night owl. This study found that early birds adapted after just a few days, while later chronotypes took a whole week to find their feet – Genomic heterogeneity affects the response to Daylight Saving Time
You can’t do anything about your chronotype. And Daylight Savings is a fact of life. here are five simple ways you can take control. You might even find you sleep more soundly than before.
1. Pace it
Make gradual shifts in your schedule: heading to bed 15 minutes earlier every day this week will help you get ready for the change.
2. Exercise first thing.
Physical exercise is another vital body clock-setter. Exercise at 7 am and again between 1 and 4pm brings your clock forward so you’ll feel sleepy earlier. Exercise between 7 and 10 pm does the opposite – Human circadian phase–response curves for exercise.
3. Get outside.
If you exercise outside, you’ll tick another box. Even at this time of year, 30 minutes in the fresh air before 10 am will help to set your body clock – Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood.
4. Eat earlier.
Your body clock is critically shaped by food – Meal Timing Regulates the Human Circadian System. Eating late can even increase your risk of coronary heart disease by 55% – The Influence of Meal Frequency and Timing on Health in Humans: The Role of Fasting.
5. Switch off.
Bright light before bedtime makes it harder for you to fall asleep and reduces the quality of your sleep too. Aim for a soft warm light – ideally 20 lux or less (a bedside lamp) – Review: bright light therapy and dawn simulation reduce symptom severity in seasonal affective disorder. Replace screen time with a simple pen and paper – journaling will improve your mood and memory too – Top Evidence-Based Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health.
Lighting up Mealtimes in Residential Care
A privilege to be the closing keynote for the National Association of Care Caterers last week. So impressed by the passion and innovation of everyone I met.
We talked about three ways lighting can help older adults to enjoy mealtimes – often a highlight (pun intended) of their day.
1. Set their body clock. Bright days, soft evenings and dark nights support healthy molecular circadian function, leading to improved metabolism and blood sugar regulation – Circadian Rhythm Changes in Healthy Aging and Mild Cognitive Impairment.
2. Set the tone. Ambient lighting alters how hungry we feel, how much we eat and even how fast we eat it. A bright, calm and welcoming atmosphere in the dining room will help them to relax and enjoy their meal – eating up to 300 more calories per meal in one study – Does eating environment have an effect on food intake in the elderly?
3. Improve staff satisfaction – There is a direct link between staff satisfaction and resident outcomes, including weight loss – Nursing Home Employee and Resident Satisfaction and Resident Care Outcomes. Lighting is directly linked to care team satisfaction – Technological Imagination in the Green and Digital Transition – and office worker satisfaction too – Linking Lighting Appraisals to Work Behaviors.
Need a quick, cheap mood-boosting trick? fairy lights are great but the choice is overwhelming!
Three types to look out for:
1. Encapsulated LEDs in simple spheres (in a line, vine or cascade). Great for kids and pets because they’re usually quite solid and hard to swallow
2. Tiny LEDs in-line on copper wire – Great to make into shapes or wrap around an object because the good ones are quite stiff
3. LED’s encapsulated in plastic shapes – make pretty shadows and look good even when they’re off.
I avoid remote control and battery-powered models – because of the environmental impact of the batteries – and you always lose the remote control!
Shopping list for the ones I used is here – Fairy lights list
There are lots of others out there!
Dogs hate Daylight Savings too!
Your Best Friend relies on you to give them a walk, a snack and a toilet break. Sudden changes to their routine causes stress and unhappiness for them too, especially as they pick up on your anxiety in subtle yet powerful ways too. This article explains how gradually adjusting your schedule will help you both to cope – How does the clock change affect your pet?
And for anyone who will be in London for Light23, please join me on the Monday evening to learn about your body clock and enjoy a creative game over a couple of glasses of wine…. link to register is here.