by Shelley English
The saying goes that time waits for no one, and at no time of year is this truer than at Daylight Saving Time. You wouldn’t think that one hour of lost sleep would make that much of a difference. But for many of us, the “spring forward” seems more like a vault!
Here are some tips for a smooth transition into the time change, shared by sleep experts at Loyola University and WebMD.
1. During the week before the change, go to bed and wake up 10 to 15 minutes earlier each day. And get outside in the morning. Exposing yourself to sunlight as early as you can will help reset your internal body clock. Early morning is my favorite time to run; there really is something about being out there before the rest of the world (or so it feels). Starting the day out with a brisk walk in fresh air and seeing the sun rise is an awesome way to start the day.
2. This is the perfect time to start exercising. Any kind of exercise can help you sleep better. Before I started running, I took Zumba classes at my gym. The classes were early in the evening – right after work, in fact – and I always came home exhausted and hungry. In the beginning, it was a toss-up between eating and going to bed! Needless to say, I started going to bed earlier and sleeping much better. So if you’ve been considering trying a new exercise regimen, now may be a good time to start. One caveat, though; exercise can also be a stimulant, so if you often have trouble sleeping, don’t exercise close to bedtime.
3. Speaking of stimulants, avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco for 4-6 hours before bedtime, as they can interfere with sleep. Indigestion caused by food that is fatty or spicy, or by having too much in your stomach, can also contribute to sleeplessness. Some light carbohydrates and a glass of milk early in the evening are easy to digest and shouldn’t interfere with sleep. I try to stick to water beginning a couple of hours before bedtime…although I’ve learned the hard way to keep liquids in moderation before going to bed, so I’m not up again frequently throughout the night!
4. Relax before going to bed. Worry and stress can cause insomnia – even stress produced by a overstimulating television show. A few of my favorite TV shows are a tad suspenseful and just happen to be a little too close to my bedtime; so I set the DVR and enjoy a good book or a long bath instead. I can always catch up on the recorded shows later in the week. If anxiety is related to situations you might face the following day at work, it may help to write out a schedule for the following day, or journal about your concerns – then let them go before your head hits the pillow.
5. Avoid napping the Saturday before the time change. But if you find yourself dragging afterward, take an early afternoon nap of 20-30 minutes. Sometimes just a 15-20 minute nap during my lunch break breathes new life into the rest of my afternoon and evening. It is also helpful to keep up the routine of going to bed a bit earlier.
The internal clock will eventually adjust, and soon the lost hour will be forgotten…that is, until it comes “back” in November!
What are some ways you have handled the transition to Daylight Saving Time? Please share your comments.