Adjust Your Body Clock to Deal With Daylight Saving Time

Finally. Daylight Saving Time. No more winter-blues and no more short-day blahs.

But the extra blast of sunlight also means no more dark-dawn mornings that make sleeping so easy, lots more tossing and turning thanks to an earlier bed time , and a body that's used to sleeping an extra hour after the alarm goes off.

In fact, one out of four of us will have a lot of trouble adjusting to the new time — particularly all of us semi-insomniacs .

So expect some lethargy, irritability and difficulty concentrating Monday, unless you follow these suggestions from chronobiologists who study the body's circadian rhythms — hourly, daily and monthly body cycles.

 First, expose yourself to the sun. If you can make yourself get out of the house, or at least to a window, between 6 and 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings, the light will help to reset your biological clock to "zero." No only does it reset the light-sensitive built-in timer that your body uses when the day begins and ends, it also helps control changes in your body temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, mental alertness and mood levels.

 Then, while you're out in the sun, get going. Move around! Run. Jog. Walk. Exercise. The idea is to signal your body that the day is starting and all systems are needed. You'll know it's a go when your temperature hits normal and your sweatshirt comes off.

 Next, plan to ease into the time changes slowly. Get up a half-hour earlier Saturday, go to sleep a half-hour earlier Saturday night, and then get up another half-hour earlier on Sunday morning. You can bet you'll be sleepier on Sunday night at an earlier time.

 Also, avoid caffeine after noon on Saturday and Sunday. Skip the sodas, hot chocolate, strong tea and that double espresso after dinner, because they'll all disrupt deep sleep, which is the sleep you need to feel really rested.

 Don't drink alcohol within three hours of bedtime. It helps you fall asleep initially, but then wakes you up after the first two sleep cycles. That means a solid three to four hours, and then, "Hello."

 Last but not least, don't exercise vigorously after dinner on Saturday and Sunday. Go dancing some other night. Exercise boosts endorphins (our natural antidepressants) but depresses production of serotonin, a sleep chemical. It also stimulates production of adrenaline — great for running the marathon, not great for resting.

Sweet dreams!