Most of the U.S. will “springing forward” for daylight saving time this weekend. While the time change will bring more daylight hours later in the day, the shock to our systems when losing an hour of sleep will keep many of us in zombie mode for a day or two.
But there is a way to prepare so it doesn’t hit you quite as hard.
Remember, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the amount of sleep needed changes as we age. A teen may need 8 to 10 hours of sleep over 24 hours. Adults need at least 7 hours a night.
Consistently not getting enough sleep can have a negative effect on your health. Not only will the lack of sleep affect your mood, making you grumpy and less productive, but it can also increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, the CDC said.
So how can you make sure that the time change is as painless as possible?
Go outside: Light is part of what makes our circadian rhythm work. Natural light is the best to get back on time. If the weather is not cooperating, open the drapes, and sit near a window, the Sleep Foundation suggests.
Avoid picking up electronics around bedtime for at least a few days after the time change, the Almanac suggests. The light produced by screens slows down melatonin, the hormone that causes us to get sleepy. The lights actually “turn on” our brains like sunlight. Instead of picking up a tablet, or watching TV to feel drowsy, pick up a book.
Also, avoid caffeine between 4 to 6 hours before hitting the hay after the time change. You’ll also want to put down the alcohol, and avoid workouts within four hours of going to sleep, the Almanac says.
What you eat and when you eat may affect your sleep. Leading up to the time change, either eat at the same time or try to shift it a little earlier each day. Don’t overeat before bed and if you MUST have a snack, have something high in protein and avoid carbs.
Try relaxation methods in the days leading up to the change, so it’s easier to transition. Then keep those methods in mind, such as deep breathing and mindfulness meditation, to calm yourself if you pop awake in the middle of the night, the Sleep Foundation says.
Don’t wait until you wake up on Sunday to change the clocks on devices that have to be manually changed. Do it before you go to bed. That way you won’t make a mistake and arrive late to something Sunday morning, the Sleep Foundation suggested.
Don’t put too much on the schedule for Sunday and Monday, just in case you’re not as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed once the clocks change. Also, avoid driving long distances over the few days after the time shift to avoid drowsy driving.
If you’re tired, TAKE A NAP. A short nap in the early afternoon will help you plow through the rest of the day. But avoid taking a nap too late in the afternoon or evening. That will disrupt your normal bedtime, the Sleep Foundation said.
Stop hitting the snooze button. The Better Sleep Council said according to Real Simple, you should instead set the alarm 10 minutes later than normal and put whatever you use for your alarm — your phone, an actual clock — across the room. Don’t let it be within reach. Get up the first time the alarm goes off to keep your melatonin cycle steady, Real Simple reported.
And remember for the fall’s end to daylight saving time or even next year when we’re springing forward once again, it takes about five to seven days for our bodies to adjust to new sleep patterns. So start adjusting your sleep schedule about a week ahead of the clocks changing, the Sleep Foundation suggests. Adjust your sleep and wake times in increments, about 15 to 20 min each night, the Almanic suggests. Over the course of a week before the time adjustment, you’ll be on your new schedule in baby steps instead of a single, one-hour, jarring chunk of time.