How to cope with the time change jet lag
Are you are one of those people having problems with the changeover to CEST? About every second person reports complaints such as daytime fatigue, concentration problems or difficulties falling asleep.
To make the change a little easier for you, we have gathered some recommendations.
- Our internal clock is ultimately set by daylight. In this respect, the changeover to summer time actually corresponds to our physiological needs, the sun rises earlier. The problem with the changeover is simply that it happens so suddenly. So it makes sense to prepare for the time change a few days before the changeover and to go to bed earlier in stages during the winter-summer changeover. This way you gradually adjust to the missing hour.
- If you are extremely tired during the day, a walk outside can work wonders. Daylight leads to an increased release of serotonin and a consecutive release of melatonin. Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle. So a lot of daylight ensures a sensible regulation, makes you awake at day and tired in the evening when the light is missing - as does exercise in fresh air. So it is sensible to spend a lot of time outside, especially in the days before and after DST-changes. Artificial lighting does not even come close to the brightness of daylight.
- Be careful not to stuff your calendar in the first three days after the DST-change. If possible, avoid appointments early in the morning and late in the evening. Treat yourself to a gentle transition.
- If you react strongly to the change in time, you should - as far as possible - leave your car at home and avoid potentially dangerous activities at work and at home - studies show an increased risk of accidents, especially for the first days after the changeover to summer time.
How to cope time change with babies and children
For some infants it is difficult to adjust to DST-changes, especially parents of young children report difficulties with the changeover (see below). Their children don't get used to the new time and either get nervous more quickly or are alive and kicking early in the morning. This also makes it more difficult for parents to use the time gained in winter.
Basically, however, the above applies:
- The most important thing when it comes to time change and children is to keep the usual daily routine. Do not suddenly change the evening routine from one day to the next. In the days before the changeover, parents can gradually change the daily rhythm by a few minutes. This means that the times for eating and sleeping are shifted a little each day, so that the kids can adapt to the new time better. It is also advisable not to start playing when the children wake up at night.
- Another recommendation is to arrange the days before the clock change more active and spend more time in the fresh air than usual, so that the little ones can go to bed a little earlier - preferably dog-tired. However, in order not to achieve the opposite, i.e. to have wide awake and excited children, parents should make sure that their children still have enough time in the evening to calm down from the exciting day.
- After the clock change it is also a little darker in the morning, so parents should make sure that the apartment is nice and bright in the morning. In order to start the day right, it might also help if the family walks to kindergarten or school instead of driving.
- From the age of ten it is a little easier for the children to get used to the time change, because then the change of one hour does affect them less physically.
Time change and night shift
People who work at night are often particularly affected by the time change.
A regular sleep rhythm is the be-all and end-all for night shift, but sadly it is something which shift workers lack.
How to survive the night...
As soon as it is dark, the messenger substance melatonin is increasingly released and reaches its peak between two and three o'clock at night. At this point, many night shift workers reach their lowest point and feel tired and unfocused. By switching to winter, the night becomes one hour longer, so the rest of the night shift can become torture.
Now it is important to provide a bright light, because this at least produces a little less melatonin and you can stay awake longer. However, coffee should be treated with care during the night shift. You should only drink it a few hours before the shift starts and not at the end of the shift, as it takes a few hours to take effect. If you forget this, it can be difficult to fall asleep in the morning hours. A cool glass filled with water can be a good alternative for in between. As soon as you notice that your eyes are getting heavier, you should also move a little more. Stretch out extensively and if possible go out into the fresh air once, this can also make you a little more awake again.
...and how to fall asleep the next morning
If it then becomes brighter in the next few hours, the melatonin level drops again and it is harder for the body to fall asleep in the morning. If you can't fall asleep well despite of one hour more work and still have problems with the changeover, you should take a few measures to glide more gently into sleep.
It is best to leave your workplace with sunglasses to darken the daylight. When you get home you should make sure that your bedroom is absolutely dark so that your body can adjust to the "night". It is also important that you can sleep in quiescence. If this is difficult, it can help to turn on soft music or use earplugs. Small habits can help your body distinguish when you sleep and when you want to be awake. For example, shower with lukewarm water before sleeping so that your body gets tired on its own.