Spring is upon us and a lot of us are looking forward to the longer days, the blooming flowers, and of course, the sunshine!One of the reasons behind those longer days is the switch to Daylight Savings Time, which means turning our clocks an hour forward at 2 AM the morning of March 14th. While a 60-minute time loss from “springing forward” may not numerically sound like a big deal, the timing of the change means an hour loss of sleep and a disrupted circadian rhythm. Even if you yourself feel awake enough to solve a Rubik’s cube in two minutes, those small amounts of sleep deprivation across millions of other people add up. It’s been found that the first few days of Daylight Savings Time often see higher rates of traffic accidents and mood disturbances, which can be caused by sleep deprivation. Fortunately, the lengthier hours of sunlight can be uplifting to the mood and make it easier to drive -- we just need to overcome that sleep loss!But what if you didn’t have to endure a few days of extra coffee and sleep deprivation to function normally after the 14th? Here are 4 tips on how to conquer the switch so you’re fully alert and well-rested enough to enjoy that extra sun:
1. Gradually go to bed earlier and earlier.
The only way to wake up at the same time without losing an hour of sleep is to go to sleep an hour earlier. But many of us haven’t had the most positive experiences with suddenly trying to sleep at 10 PM instead of the usual 11 PM -- struggling to fall asleep can be frustrating! There might be just too many thoughts energetically running around in your brain to settle down ahead of schedule. Try going to bed earlier in 10-15 minute increments throughout the week before the switch. It’s not as noticeable of a change as 60 minutes, so there’s a lot less of an obstacle to overcome. Of course, aim to wake up earlier by the same amount of minutes.
2. Eat the right foods to help you sleep.
Even though falling asleep just 15 minutes earlier doesn’t sound like much of a hurdle, there are additional steps you can take to make it even easier. Certain foods such as almonds and turkey contain nutrients conducive to sleep. And for when you aren’t hungry, there are drinks like chamomile tea. Of course, you should avoid the food and drink that would keep you awake longer, such as anything with caffeine and nicotine in it. This includes alcohol, which might initially make you fall asleep faster but depletes your replenishing REM sleep later on.
3. Practice quality sleep hygiene. Avoid any screens right before bed, clean your room, etc.
Clean and arrange your room so it better facilitates falling asleep. Close your windows and blinds before bed if you’ve been woken up by noise and light before. Read a book if it helps you doze off, even if you’re falling asleep while it’s still in your hand. See if there’s a way you can rearrange any distracting elements so they aren’t in your line of sight from your bed. Even a wall calendar with stress-inducing events written on it can subtly invoke a little too much anxiety to sleep. While it’s tempting to close the day by scrolling through your Facebook news feed, the bright light from the screen can keep you awake. The blue light can suppress melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall asleep, while the screen’s content might mentally stimulate rather than relax you. While it’s great to see some exciting news such as plans to build a new cat cafe a mile away from you, excitement isn’t the best emotion to feel right before it’s time to unwind. So make sure you get your mobile app time in earlier in the day!