Daylight Saving Time is notorious for screwing with our sleep patterns. The effects of a lost hour of sleep can have us feeling out of sorts for days. Even though our brains are aware that the time has changed, it can take our internal body clock a while to adapt. So what can we do to avoid feeling the DST drag? Here are a few tips to prevent the negative effects of Daylight Saving Time, as well as some general tips for establishing a healthy sleep routine.
Transition into the Time Change
Sticking to the same routine in the days leading up to DST might have you in for a rude awakening - literally. Prep in advance by gradually changing adjusting your sleep schedule. Try to head to bed 15-20 minutes before you normally would in the days leading up to the time change. Being well rested the week before the change will make it easier for you to adapt.
Get in Sync with the Sun
Science backed studies have confirmed that our bodies aren’t governed by the official time of day, but rather the presence or absence of sunlight. That’s because we naturally release hormones that wake us up when we receive sunlight or calm us down when it gets dark. Fighting against our bodies’ natural inclinations by abiding to numbers on a 24-hour clock can actually have severe health impacts such as obesity. The best way to counteract this is by getting natural sunlight exposure early in the day, and avoiding bright lights in the evening. This is especially important during the period after DST, but it’s also a good general rule to stick to as it helps regulate our circadian systems to a more natural rhythm.
Make your Bedroom a Sleep-Inducing Haven
No need to take a trip to the spa to feel relaxed. Make a commitment to create a bedroom environment that makes you feel just as pampered and soothed. A clean and comfortable space free of distractions and sleep prohibiting objects (*cough* electronics *cough*) is conducive to relaxation and sleep. Keep your room as dark as possible at night - if you don’t have proper blinds, try a sleeping mask. Invest in a good mattress, and maybe splurge on some fine linens - after all, you’ll be using them every single night!
Avoid Stimulating Substances
Caffeine, tobacco and alcohol should all be avoided for 4-6 hours before bed if you want to ensure a good night’s sleep, so you might have to make this weekend a dry one! Even though alcohol allows a healthy person to fall asleep quicker, it can mess with your quality of sleep. Studies have shown alcohol consumption before bed reduces REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. REM sleep is considered the most restorative stage of sleep, and without enough of it we experience drowsiness and poor concentration the following day. Hangover + Daylight Saving Time + not enough REM sleep = recipe for disaster.
Don’t forget, DTS doesn’t have to be all bad. If you’re well prepared, you’ll be able to manage the time change like a pro, and you’ll soon be able to appreciate the extra hours of sunshine. Use the extended amount of daylight to go for a post-work run or walk before it gets dark, or if you have one, spend some time out in your garden or porch. The fresh air will do you wonders!