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Falling Back to Standard Time: Staying Productive on Shorter Days

Falling Back to Standard Time: Staying Productive on Shorter Days

By: Lauren Sambataro: MYX Coach

It’s the time of year for pumpkin spice, football, and cooler weather. With shorter daylight hours, our favorite fall festivities may come with a trade-off. The end of Daylight Savings Time gives us an extra hour of sleep as we “fall back” to Standard Time. Sounds promising, right? The additional rest seems like it would bring us a boost of comfort and confidence in the morning. So why aren’t we experiencing a surge of energy?

For most of us, setting our clocks back doesn’t result in additional sleep. Daylight Savings Time is a major disruptor of our circadian rhythm, a biological process that controls our sleep-wake cycle. Research suggests a connection between light exposure and productivity. We may feel tempted to cozy up and hibernate as we move into the fall and winter months. This can decrease our productivity and impact our health and mood. Early risers and those who experience difficulties falling asleep, shortened sleep cycles, or sleep disturbances may face new sleep challenges. 

Want to keep your productivity at peak performance? Try these six tips for conquering shorter days.

1. Exercise regularly.

Need motivation to sneak in an early morning MYX session? You may find it easier to wake up and get going after a workout in the morning. Research has confirmed exercising early in the day may help shift your circadian clock. If morning workouts aren’t your style, don’t fret. The same study also found that exercising between 1 pm and 4 pm may help with sleep. Keep in mind that regardless of the conditions, exercising at any time is almost always better than not exercising at all. So if you love your regular evening workout, stick with it.

2. Maintain a consistent sleep & wake schedule.

Many of us sleep less during weekdays. Then we stay up later and sleep in longer on the weekends. This pattern contributes to social jet lag, which can make it difficult to return to our weekday schedules. Talk about a case of the Mondays! Avoid this phenomenon by sticking to a normal sleep routine.

3. Find morning sunlight. 

Sunlight can work as a morning cup of joe. Light tells our brain it is time to wake up by increasing our cortisol and body temperature. We can reset our circadian rhythms by getting direct light exposure within one hour of waking when our circadian clocks are most sensitive. This trick makes it easier to fall asleep faster and wake up earlier.

4. Stick to consistent meal times.

Diet trends, such as intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating, are experiencing a surge in popularity. Although the benefits can be profound, it is healthier to stick to a consistent eating schedule no matter which one you choose. "Breaking your fast" signals hormones, just like light, that set us up for a successful and productive day. While nutrition and eating habits are highly personal, sticking to your regular meal routine is often the best way to go.

5. Check out your sleep chronotype.

 Michael Breus, the Sleep Doctor, coined four sleep chronotypes that may influence how we like to eat, sleep, wake, and work. Depending on your chronotype (wolf, dolphin, bear or lion), your personal biological clock may dictate when you are the most productive. If you can make small changes in your daily schedule, you may notice a dramatic rise in your energy and efficiency. 

6. Spend time outside.

If you’re feeling blue, uninspired, or just in a rut, get outdoors as much as possible. We gain energy from the sun, so if it is shining, go get it even if it’s just 10-15 minutes! A quick mental break in nature can increase productivity for the rest of your day! While natural light helps us stay alert during the day, avoid excess exposure to blue light and tech devices, which disrupt the release of nighttime, recovery hormones. Winding down as close to sunset as possible is always a good rule of thumb, ensuring your best night’s sleep and even better day to follow!

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