Moving the clock forward one hour in the spring doesn't just affect your schedule, it can affect your body's internal clock, too. While most of us look forward to an extra hour of sunlight, the change can really mess with our sleep cycle. Unfortunately, this adjustment to the time change is different for everyone. Some people adjust in a few days; for others, it takes more time. For your health and safety, here are some tips for dealing with the time change.
1. Get to bed at an earlier time
You don't have to get to sleep two hours before your usual start. However, it might be helpful by starting your nighttime routine 15 minutes earlier in the days leading up to daylight saving time. You can also turn your clocks forward Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning. This allows you to live your day based on that schedule. It's like a nice warmup before the actual event! Allowing two days, rather than a single day could make all the difference in the world.
2. Avoid electronics before going to bed
Turn off all electronics an hour before bedtime. We know it might be tough to resist the urge to check your email, watch Netflix or read some articles on your phone. But all of these activities can keep you feeling alert and stimulated. Light from TVs, computers, tablets and cellphones can suppress melatonin and affect the quality of your sleep. That being said, if you absolutely need to send out that email before you hit the hay, try dimming the display light on your phone or computer.
Electronic devices emit tons of blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it's daytime. If you often have to work at night, purchase a pair of blue-blocking glasses or install an app that can automatically adjust the color and brightness of your screen based on your current time zone.
3. Have a Sleep Schedule
This tip is actually helpful if you just have regular issues falling asleep every night. However, leading up to daylight saving, this is another way to prevent too much grogginess in the morning or just an inability to fall asleep at night. By waking up at the same time each morning, you're keeping your sleep cycle more regular. Yes, it's nice to sleep in on the weekends! However, sleeping in only helps you feel more rested in the short-term. We're looking to fix the long-term.
A consistent sleep schedule based on a single predetermined rise time will help you feel more rested throughout the entire year. Getting up at the same time is far more important than going to bed at the same time, though consistency in bedtime is certainly also important. On the first Sunday of daylight saving time, you may want to sleep in past your regular wake up call. But just be mindful that you SHOULD get up at your regular time. You might feel incredibly sleepy. But it is much more beneficial to you if you just brush the sleepiness away and get up when you usually do.
4. Don't take long naps
Shutting your eyes midday is tempting, especially if you're feeling sluggish, but avoiding naps is key for adjusting to the time change. Long daytime naps could make it harder for you to get a full night's sleep. However, a short nap won't do too much damage. If you have to take one, take it earlier in the day and for no longer than 20 minutes. This will help you from feeling too rested before bed time, while reducing some sluggishness you feel early in the day.
5. Watch what you eat and drink
Eat dinner earlier in the evening to help your body prepare for bedtime. Try to avoid spicy or fatty foods, especially as bedtime is approaching. They can lead to indigestion and insomnia. It should also be noted that you should avoid caffeine and alcohol later in the day. Again, you might feel sluggish in the late afternoon or early evening, so it is tempting to reach for just one more cup of coffee. If you'd like to get to sleep that night, that "just one more cup" can really hurt your ability to get a good night's rest.
6. Get moving more
Honestly, exercising is a great way to help you sleep even if it wasn't daylight saving time. There's no better way to fall asleep quickly than to literally be physically exhausted from running, strength training or any other form of exercise. Being physically active is good for your health in many areas. But it can certainly help you sleep better, too. Go for a nice walk or run in the neighborhood during the daylight where you are exposed to natural sunlight. Oddly enough though, you should not break a sweat too close to your bedtime. The adrenaline from a good work out can keep you buzzing for a bit, so it's best if you can allow for at least two hours to pass before falling asleep.
7. Enjoy more of your day
One of the better things about daylight savings is that the days are much longer. It won't be dark when you return home from work! So get out and enjoy that light! Spring is definitely one of the best times of the year, so make sure you're enjoying all of the wonderful aspects of this season!
Bedtime routines aren't just for kids! It's also important for adults to establish good sleep habits.
Put your phone, computer or tablet away. Turn off the television and pick up a non-suspenseful book. Stay consistent with the amount of sleep you get each night — and that includes weekends. Avoid long naps during the day. Try not to drink too much alcohol or caffeine before bed. Get some exercise. And last but not least, get outside and soak up some of that extra sun shine!