5 Tips to Adjust to Daylight Saving Time
You may be excited about warmer weather on the horizon, but one of the side effects can be adjusting your sleep pattern to Daylight Saving Time (DST). To avoid interrupted sleep, we have five tips to help you prepare and manage the change.
- Plan one week ahead. Beginning the week before the time change, it’s important to adjust your wake and sleep time by 15 minute increments until Daylight Saving Time. Then, the day before the time change, (typically a Saturday as DST usually occurs on a Sunday) wake up at your usual weekday time or even 15 to 30 minutes earlier. When Monday comes, you’ll be on your way to feeling adjusted.
- Regulate your sleep hours. Regulating your sleep pattern can be a tremendous help. Plan to wake up and go to sleep at the exact same time each day on weekdays and weekends. If you’re feeling extremely tired, consider taking a 20 minute nap during the afternoon. For some, a nap can make it more difficult to fall asleep in the evening and for others it doesn’t affect them and helps them feel energized the rest of the day. Decide if a nap is helpful or hurtful to your sleep routine.
- Moderate exercise during the day. Moderate exercise of 30 minutes, 3 times a week is very helpful to a healthy sleep pattern. Make sure to not exercise too close to your bedtime. A simple walk outdoors helps on many levels and even a few minutes in the sun can help you sleep better. The sun can help adjust your circadian rhythm. These daily rhythms regulate the physical, mental, and emotional functions of living things. The right combination of light and dark can help your body’s circadian rhythm readjust so you can fall asleep on your new schedule and sleep more soundly.
- Create a sleep environment. To help your internal clock regulate to a consistent sleep pattern, consider making a few adjustments to your bedroom to create a peaceful, sleep environment. You may need ear plugs, a white noise machine or an eye mask to help fall asleep when it’s lighter outside. Also, aim to turn off electronics an hour before bed, keep the temperature cool for comfortable sleeping (60-75 F is recommended) and wind down before climbing into bed.
- Avoid watching the clock. If you are still having trouble falling asleep, do not watch the clock. If you’ve been awake for more than 20 minutes, get up and find something relaxing to do such as reading a book (not on an electronic device) or journal your thoughts.
If you’ve tried all of these suggestions, and you’re still having trouble adjusting to the time change after a few weeks, call your healthcare provider for more assistance. If you still find you are having trouble sleeping, be sure to check for signs and symptoms of sleep disorders and to take a quick sleep apnea risk assessment.