On March 11th, we will all “spring forward” and set our clocks an hour ahead. As we ring in Daylight Saving Time, there may be some adjustments to your sleep schedule. You may technically lose an hour of sleep, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Let’s look at how to optimize your sleep schedule after the Daylight Saving adjustment and some tips and tricks on how to get the best night’s sleep.
Keep Your Room Dark
In Daylight Saving Time, your 9pm now becomes 10pm, but your 7am is 8am. That means that the sun will rise earlier and it will eventually set later. Keeping your room dark is a crucial part of healthy transition into your Daylight Saving sleep schedule because your body is able to rest up without distractions. In fact, darkness shuts down our bodies’ production of serotonin, the mood-regulating chemical that affects alertness, which makes you sleepy. Consider investing in a set of blackout curtains to keep your room especially dark.
Keep Your Normal Routine
The time change alters our circadian clock, which means that it may be hard for some people to adjust their sleeping schedule. But, most sleep experts suggest sticking with your normal routine, even on the Sunday of the time change. For example, if you always wake up at 6am, set an alarm and force yourself to wake up at 6am on Sunday (even though your body will feel like it’s 5am!). This will prepare you for the Daylight Saving sleep adjustment so you’re ready to go on Monday morning.
Set Yourself Up for Success
During Daylight Saving Time, and all year for that matter, set yourself up for success by creating the perfect sleep environment to turn your brain off. Below are some tips on how to maximize your sleep, no matter what the clock says:
Exercise Before Bed -
Choose Your Bedding Carefully -
It may seem obvious, but your choice in bedding has a direct correlation to your quality of sleep. Make sure you’re sleeping with a pillow that adequately supports your head and neck, such as a water pillow, and have comfortable, breathable bedding. Silk sheets are generally the best, but high thread count cotton is also a great choice.
Turn off the Screens -
All day, we are inundated with screens. You sit at a monitor at work, stare at your phone at lunch, and watch TV at home. But all these screens emit blue light, which makes it harder to sleep. If you experience insomnia, try limiting your screen exposure for at least an hour before bed. Grab a book or magazine instead to let your eyes relax.
You don’t have to be a major yogi to explore the benefits of meditation. Taking time to breathe deeply or just close your eyes for a few minutes before bed will help slow down your racing thoughts and center you in the moment. Start by taking five deep breaths, with seven second inhales and exhales. Or, keep a gratitude journal by your bed and spend a few minutes every night jotting down what you’re grateful for. This will help you say goodbye to the day and hello to a restful sleep.
Eat a Snack -
Going to bed on an empty stomach harms your sleep more than helps it. Instead of going to bed with a grumbling tummy, grab a snack before hitting the hay. But, consider what’s really in your snack. There’s caffeine in many foods and beverages, including chocolate, soda, some teas, and more. In addition, sugar intake provides short bursts of energy, which is the last thing you want before bed. Refined sugars also put stress on your hormones, which can wake you up in the middle of the night. When snacking before bed, turn to calming picks. Foods with tryptophan (think: napping after a big turkey meal) are a great choice. But don’t worry, turkey isn’t your only choice. Yogurt, milk, bananas, and eggs also have tryptophan.
Avoid Caffeine in the Afternoon -
Everybody responds to caffeine differently and for some, a few cups of coffee doesn’t affect them, and for others even a sip of coffee will have them bouncing off the walls for hours. But for the sake of your sleep, try not to consume any caffeine after about 2pm. Even if it doesn’t impact you drastically, better safe than sorry when it comes to sleep.
Daylight Saving Time is right around the corner. Use this time of the year to adjust your sleep schedule and adopt habits that will help you fall asleep and stay asleep all night long.