Time Change & Sleep Tips
Spring into better sleep after the dreaded Daylight Saving Time
We have officially accomplished the Sunday spring forward for Daylight Saving Time. Now what? If only there was a magic sleep genie who could help us avoid the adjustment period and let us snooze away in a slumber paradise. But alas, we’re responsible for changing the clocks on the microwave and making our own sleep miracles happen. It makes us question, why do I have to make adjustments to my sleep twice a year?
While the idea originally blossomed in the brain of Benjamin Franklin, Daylight Saving really took effect in the United States during WWI in order to ration the usage of coal for heat and light. It allowed people to begin their workdays with the sunrise and head to bed earlier for a more productive workforce. In the 1970’s, they extended the concept through the winter to reduce energy use. If folks got bed earlier, there’s no need for lightbulbs to be on, right? Times have changed. A lot!
Save your sleep time
The spring time change this past weekend can lead to a rise in stress and loss of sleep, taking away the valuable time for the body to recharge and recover. I don’t know about you, but our biannual time change is slowing draining my energy. It doesn’t look like the tradition is going to stop anytime soon, so how can we keep our sleep on track during the transitions?
Here are some tips to think about now that the clocks have been adjusted.
- Take a quick nap – If you find yourself feeling sluggish after the time change, take a short nap this afternoon – it’s a great way to give yourself a jumpstart of energy. But keep your nap to 20-40 minutes to make sure you don’t disrupt your sleep at night.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule – Make sleep a priority by keeping consistent bedtime and wake up schedules, even on the weekends. The average adult needs between 7-8 hours of sleep each night, so work backwards from the time you need to wake up and try to keep a bedtime that works best for you.
- Exercise – Any physical activity will put you in a good position to prepare for sleep later in the night. A good rule of thumb to follow is to avoid working out within 2 hours of your bedtime.
- Limit alcohol – When you consume alcohol too close to bedtime it reduces REM sleep, which happens approximately 90 minutes after you fall asleep. A nightcap or 2 won’t cause a noticeable disruption in your sleep, so moderation is important.
- Avoid caffeine – Consuming caffeine 3 to 6 hours before bedtime can reduce total sleep time by more than 1 hour each night.
- Eat light at night – When we’re exhausted or stressed, eating right before bedtime can make digestion more difficult and can cause you to experience gas, bloating, and/or heartburn. These issues may often lead to insomnia, keeping you up at night in an uncomfortable state. For a better night’s sleep, try eating a little lighter and if you need a snack before bed reach for something easy to digest such as carbs or dairy.
- Relax before bed – A consistent bedtime routine ensures a smoother transition to sleep. Experts recommend reading a book, listening to music or taking a soothing bath or shower to prep yourself for some shut eye.
- Create a sleep sanctuary – Creating a sleep friendly environment is vital to providing yourself with a consistent good night’s sleep. Key items to focus on is to get your room at the right temperature, quiet and free of distractions, which means no screens.
- Evaluate your sleep tools – Do you have the right mattress for your sleep needs? The proper support and comfort are essential items your mattress needs to provide for you to get the most out of your sleep. If your mattress is older than 7 or more years, you may want to start looking into a new mattress especially if your old mattress is keeping you up at night.
Hop into action to reclaim your sleep
If you find it hard to adjust to the new time and find yourself lying awake staring at the clock for more than 20 minutes, don’t lay there struggling. Get up and go to another room, do something relaxing to help make yourself sleepy and keep the lights low. Pour yourself a glass of warm milk, read a book, or write down whatever is on your mind to get it out of the stress cycle that’s spinning in your head.
Daylight Saving steals an hour of our mornings and adds it to our evenings, making the mornings darker than most of us prefer. The key to morning success is to add as much sunlight as possible to your day because the body’s internal clock relies on cues from the sun to regulate your natural sleep times. Sunlight has a direct impact on boosting your metabolism and regulating blood pressure and body temp. Adjusting all the clocks in your home and cars may be a chore, but don’t forget to pay attention to your internal clock that may need some maintenance to help you get a good night’s sleep after the time change.