Blame Ben Franklin. According to National Geographic, it was this otherwise admirable early American who can be credited with the concept of Daylight Savings Time (DST). He believed that changing the hour would help save resources and relieve people from the working late into the night.
But did Ben think about what this would do to our moods, to our sleep patterns, and consequently, to our diets and exercise patterns?
While some people seem unaffected by the hour shift, others feel more sluggish and sleep-deprived during DST, which extends until the second week in March. How do we deal with the dark mornings and evenings, and the urge to pick up our mood with food? You’ve got to eat, so eat foods that will lift your mood and nourish you.
Here are some tips on how to handle the time shift:
- Complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can help prevent sluggishness and provide long-lasting energy.
- Eat omega-3s. Fish, many types of nuts, and deep leafy greens contain these fantastic fatty acids. Research points to mood-boosting and heart-health boosting benefits of eating omega-3-rich foods.
- Eat breakfast. Breakfast provides valuable fuel for your brain after 8 hours of sleep. Make it protein-rich and fiber-rich (for staying power), but include a fruit or veggie for immune-boosting Vitamin C.
- Keep moving, even if it’s chilly. The first daylight hours (before 9 a.m.) are the most beneficial to catch outside if you want to boost your mood through exercise. Bundle up and walk for a ½ hour.
- If you’re sleep is off and you’re roaming around at night, don’t reach for junk food. Chips, ice cream, and the like may temporarily make you feel better. But their short-term sugar bursts will not only keep you up, but may lead to weight grain if midnight raids on the fridge become a habit.
- Don’t isolate yourself. This is easy advice to follow if you live in a sunny climate and can stroll down the street to see your neighbors. It’s harder in places where going outside involves bundling up in several layers, shoveling snow, and forcing yourself to like it. Even so, have a friend come over to help make dinner instead of going it alone. Watch a hilarious movie. Have a wine and cheese get-together for a group of friends. Nothing fancy. Just something fun enough to keep winter healthy and happy for everybody.
– Chris Cooper