As daylight saving time ends, athletes need to take extra care to adjust to the earlier sunset and darkness. The end of daylight-saving time marks a transition to shorter days and longer nights. For many people, this shift can throw off sleep schedules, energy levels, and workout routines. Athletes in particular need to take steps to successfully adapt.
Getting adequate sleep is one of the most important things athletes can do when the clocks fall back. The earlier sunset can make it harder to feel sleepy at an appropriate bedtime. Athletes should start adjusting their sleep schedule gradually in the weeks leading up to the time change. Go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier each night to get your body prepared. Stick to a consistent sleep and wake time, even on weekends, to lock in the new routine. Dim the lights in the evening and avoid screen time in the hour before bed. Aim for at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Proper rest will give you the energy and focus needed for optimal performance.
It’s also essential for athletes to adapt their nutrition and hydration when daylight saving time begins. The shorter days mean less time for the body to absorb vitamin D from the sun. Boost vitamin D intake by consuming fish, eggs, fortified foods and supplements. Stay hydrated by drinking enough fluid throughout the day, especially around workouts. Warmer drinks like herbal tea can be soothing before bed. Avoid alcohol and caffeine several hours before sleep since they can disrupt sleep quality.
With limited daylight, athletes need to prioritize exercise timing. If possible, move your workout routine to right before or after work to take advantage of the remaining daylight. Be sure to wear reflective and bright workout clothes if exercising outside near sunset or after dark. Plan indoor workouts at the gym or home on darker days. Establish a consistent schedule and stick to it, even if you have to force yourself out of bed when it’s still dark. Working out first thing in the morning may be your best option.
Be diligent about injury prevention as the darkness sets in earlier. Do proper warm-ups and stretches to get muscles ready for activity. Cool down and refuel with protein and carbohydrates to aid muscle recovery. Schedule lower intensity active rest days to allow the body to adapt. Monitor for signs of overtraining like chronic fatigue, trouble sleeping, and decreased performance. Adjust your training plan accordingly and take a break if needed.
The transition to standard time requires athletes to put in extra preparation. Prioritizing sleep consistency, vitamin D intake, workout timing, injury prevention, and listening to your body will allow you to maintain peak performance. With proactive self-care, athletes can take the new season head on.