For those of us who are sleep deprived (which apparently is the majority of Americans), the most dreaded time of year is quickly approaching: daylight-saving time.
On Sunday at 2:00 a.m., we move our clocks forward an hour, cutting short our snooze time. Unless, that is, you live Hawaii, or another area of the United States, where daylight-saving time isn't observed.
But don't fret. There are simple measures you can take to prevent daylight-saving time from sabotaging your sleep. Stanford sleep expert Clete Kushida, MD, PhD, offers the following tips:
- When the time change occurs, set your new bedtime and awakening time to correspond to the new time and try to strictly follow the new bedtime and awakening time. If you typically have difficulty adjusting to the daylight-saving time, try gradually moving your bedtime later by fifteen minutes in advance of the time change.
- Bright light in the morning can help your body adjust to the new awakening time. Going outside or staying in an area that receives a lot of sunlight for 30 minutes within 5 minutes of awakening will enable you to receive the necessary bright light. If you typically awaken before dawn, obtaining a UV-filtered light box is an acceptable substitute for sunlight.
- Establish a pattern of relaxing behaviors before bedtime such as meditation, yoga, or taking a warm bath and avoid alcohol or stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine before bedtime.
- Don't stay in bed longer than 20 minutes if you can’t sleep or can’t fall back asleep after awaking in the middle of the night. Get up and go to another room and do something that makes you drowsy such as reading, knitting, etc. Then, when you feel drowsy then go back to bed. This reconditions your body to associating the bedroom for being a place to sleep.
- If you are an anxious person or just simply use your bedtime to ruminate about your next day’s schedules or problems, it may help to compose a "worry list", that is, a list of all the things that are bothering you. It is best to write down this list two or more hours before bedtime and to try to mentally go through and try to solve the problems on this list at that time so your mind won’t be flooded with these items the moment your head hits the pillow.