How to Make the Most of the Morning Light After the Clocks Change

How to Make the Most of the Morning Light After the Clocks Change

The dread sets in around 4 p.m., as the sun inches closer to the horizon and starts to wind down for the day. The end of Daylight Saving Time every fall can feel like something out of a Stephen King novel.

We decided to talk to some experts about how to cope with the time change and the dwindling daylight. “I’ll pass, with thanks,” Mr. King himself replied via email, “but you can say that the change back to Standard Time always feels to me like the death of the year.”

Plenty of people feel the same sense of gloom as most of the United States turns the clocks back an hour this weekend, but what if instead of dreading the change, people embraced the sense of possibility that comes with the extra sunlight in the earlier part of the day?

“Morning light is really good for your health” and is a great mood booster, said Dr. Jennifer Martin, a psychologist and professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Our internal clock is really set by light and it is very sensitive. It’s the signal to our brain that the day has started.”

Here are some ways to welcome the change.

A morning walk — with a group, your dog or a podcast in your ears — is a simple and pleasant way to take advantage of the early daylight.

Jane Ireland’s life changed two years ago when she started waking up with the sun in Boulder, Colo., and exploring the city’s urban trails and mountains with a group, the Boulder Ramblers. Now 71, Ms. Ireland said walking had become her mantra.

“It’s a three-miles-per-hour lifestyle,” she said. “It’s the horizontal connection and connection with ourselves.”

Marcie Thomas, the director of digital engagement for GirlTrek, which connects Black women through walking groups, likes to walk the Roswell Riverwalk along the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta about three mornings a week.

“It’s still quiet,” she said of her morning walks. “We know, oftentimes as we get into the day, it’s easy for it not to happen. It’s good to take advantage of those morning hours.”

Chelsey Forbes, a yoga teacher in New York City, starts her day by walking her dog, having a magnesium shake and using a dry brush over her skin.

Ms. Forbes typically doesn’t do a full yoga session first thing in the morning, but she suggests doing a few simple stretches to get the blood flowing: alternating cat and cow poses to warm up the spine, and downward-facing dog.

With four points of contact on the ground, the downward-facing dog pose is incredibly stable and yet, she said, “every single day it looks different.”

Rene Wiley, a fitness coach in Los Angeles, said he started his day by stretching to “establish that mind-body connection.” Mr. Wiley starts from the bottom up, stretching his ankles and calves and continuing all the way up to his shoulders and neck. He also recommends doing body-weight squats to feel grounded, reverse lunges to find some balance and a plank to warm up the core.

But for Mr. Wiley, the real appeal of the extra sunlight in the morning is that he has more time to surf.

“I love getting out there, especially when the sun is rising,” he said. “You’re ahead of the day, but you’re also rising with the day. I like that feeling.”

Put away the drip machine and try a French pressfor an easy but impressive cup of coffee at home.

Jack Wilson, the owner of Radio Coffee and Beer in Austin, Texas, uses an AeroPress with a kettle and a basic coffee grinder. His wife puts a scoop of Ovaltine in hers in the morning to get a protein boost. When they’re feeling extra luxurious, they’ll get out a stovetop steamer for some foam.

Mr. Wilson usually makes a big cup of coffee that he can sip on for a while. Lately, he has been taking advantage of the cooler fall mornings in Austin to take his dogs out for a coffee walk.

“It’s the whole ritual and routine,” he said.

Julia Cameron has started her day the same way for roughly 30 years: She gets out of bed and immediately sits down to write.

The practice, known as morning pages, is a central exercise in “The Artist’s Way,” her guide to a creative and productive life. By writing three pages by hand about whatever comes to mind, and doing it as soon as you wake up, “we catch ourselves before we have our defenses in place,” she said, adding that it “primes the pump.”

With the extra sunlight in the morning, “we have an hour to focus on the pages,” she said. “I find that the combination of getting up earlier and falling back on the clock change gives me an illusion of spaciousness.”

Extra light is not an option for Cecilia Blomdahl, known as Cecilia from Svalbard on TikTok, but she still finds ways to make the most of the time change.

Ms. Blomdahl, who documents her cozy life on Svalbard, a remote archipelago near the North Pole, is invigorated by the darkness this time of year, when the sun does not shine at all. She rises around 8:30 a.m. with the help of her wake-up light, she said in an email, and then lets her dog outside, turns on all the lights in the house and makes coffee.

“Standing outside on our deck, overlooking the fjord, I enjoy my hot cup of coffee and the cold Arctic air,” she said. She won’t put on a jacket until it’s negative 15 degrees Celsius, or about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. That, she said, is where she will “draw the line.”




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