blog daylight savings time 2022It’s that time of year again. Daylight savings time is ending, and we will be rolling the clocks back this weekend. Many people are glad that they will enjoy an extra hour in their evening, while others look forward to an extra hour of sleep.

However, some people are not so excited about the change. For parents of little ones and those with a strong circadian rhythm, this change can be a challenge. Our bodies (and little ones) do not automatically align with the clock, especially when it is artificially changed.  

If you are someone who struggles with the time change or your body simply needs to reset its circadian rhythm, there is one important piece of research-based advice I have for you. It has nothing to do with your evening and everything to do with your morning.

Let’s explore the most important thing you can do to get your sleep back on track.


Circadian Rhythm

According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), “Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. These natural processes respond primarily to light and dark and affect most living things, including animals, plants, and microbes.”

Simply speaking, it is the cycle your body goes through in 24 hours. This cycle is influenced by many things, but nothing affects it more than exposure to light and darkness. You may be thinking about light in the evening keeping you up; we all have heard to limit blue light before bed. This is an important aspect, but it’s not the most important.

You may be surprised to hear that morning sunlight is the most important factor in setting your circadian rhythm. Getting outside first thing in the morning can have a profound effect on your circadian rhythm, but it can be tricky in climates that don’t provide bright sunlight year-round. 


How to Get Light

Some people are lucky to live in areas that get plenty of sunshine year-round. This isn’t true for everyone, but if you are one of the lucky ones take advantage of it. Go outside and let the sunshine on you. 

In Chicago, the weather has been pretty nice lately, but soon we may have to bundle up to do this. Eventually, the sun will become less pronounced, and we may have to find other ways to get that bright light in the morning. 

One way to do this is by using a light machine. It won’t give you all the health benefits, but it is a good alternative when necessary. 



Why is this Important?

There are many health benefits to regulating your circadian rhythm. The NIGMS states that in addition to your sleep your circadian rhythm can influence important functions in your body, such as:

  • Hormone release
  • Eating habits and digestion
  • Body temperature
  • Gut health

One study even showed that shift workers who change their schedule every week have a reduced lifespan! The study by Atanu Kumar Pati of The School of Life Sciences at Pt Ravishankar Shukla University looked at 3,912-day workers and 4,623 shift workers of the Southeastern Central Railway in. Looking at the deaths of 594 railway employees, they found shift workers lived 3.94 years less than the day workers.


If you are interested in regulating your circadian rhythm, give morning sunshine a try. I’d love to hear about your experience!

Dr. Jamie