Daylight Saving Time starts Sunday, March 8, where we will “spring ahead” and turn our clocks forward one hour to maximize our time with sunlight. This time change is hard for many people, who consider it to be “losing” an hour of sleep. In the spirit of spring, here are some tips for adjusting your sleep schedule so you come into work the following Monday rested.
Get Adjusted to the Time Change in Advance: Instead of waiting until Sunday, try getting yourself in the one-hour-later habit on Friday evening by eating dinner an hour earlier, going to bed earlier, and then setting your alarm for earlier on Saturday to do the same. That way when Monday rolls around, your body will already by synched with the time change and you won’t be drowsy or lethargic at work.
Go for a Walk that Weekend: Exercise releases serotonin, a chemical that helps to regulate mood, appetite, and sleep. By exercising regularly, especially outdoors and early in the day, your body can begin to adjust. Be wary of exercising too late in the day, as that can interfere with your ability to sleep.
Soak in the Sun: Light and dark play a huge role in your body’s circadian rhythm (the biological process that keeps your body running on a 24 hour schedule). Turn your lights on in the morning and spend time outdoors taking in the light during the day. At night, dim the lights in your home to help your body adjust to the hour change and to fall asleep faster.
Take Short Naps: As many know, taking long naps can throw off your body’s sense of time entirely. Instead, take short power naps of only 20 minutes to get rest, and if you still feel tired, go outside and go for a quick walk.
Avoid Caffeine Before Bed: If you are having trouble falling asleep to the new earlier time, don’t just avoid coffee or tea right before bed – avoid it for 4-6 hours before bed. Depending on the person and your day, you may be able to fall asleep with some caffeine in your system, but the best bet is to not have those drinks anywhere near your bedtime.
If You Can’t Sleep, Get Up: If you find yourself lying in bed staring at the clock for more than 20 minutes as you try to fall asleep, get up and go to another room and do something relaxing. Read a book, keep the lights low, have some warm milk, or do whatever else will calm you until you get sleepy.