While you may appreciate daylight saving time (DST) and the extra hour on those long summer nights, those first few days after losing an hour of sleep can take their toll on your physical and mental health.
To spring forward on March 12 without losing precious sleep, follow these tricks:
Go to bed at least 11 minutes earlier.
Why 11 minutes? According to SleepIQ® data collected by Sleep Number after DST in March 2016, on average, people were in bed 11 fewer minutes the night DST began compared with the average Saturday night that March.
Develop a bedtime routine now.
Adding 11 minutes to your sleep only works if you have a routine sleep schedule. It takes time for a sleep schedule to become automatic. Two weeks before DST, start sticking to a regular bedtime and wake time. One week before DST, gradually start shifting both your bedtime and wake time back, in 15-minute to 30-minute increments, to make up the deficit of losing that hour.
Start getting enough sleep.
Most adults need a solid seven to eight hours of sleep. Most of us aren’t getting it. Some 31 percent of adults get less than six hours of sleep per day, according to self-reported data from the National Health Interview Survey. If you’re already in a sleep deficit, losing one more hour digs you further into the trench of sleep deprivation.
Play with light.
To help you get to sleep the night before DST begins (and subsequent nights when it’s too bright out to sleep), close the curtains and dim the lights in the evening. Switch to sleep-friendly orange light bulbs. Before bed, limit time on electronic devices; they emit blue light, which suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone necessary for sleep. To avoid feeling groggy in the morning after losing an hour of sleep, expose yourself to as much natural light as possible upon waking, which helps reset your body’s circadian rhythm. Throw open the curtains. Go for an early morning walk.
Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and eating a large meal before bedtime can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep. Avoid or limit these stimulants the night DST begins (and any night).
Set your alarm.
Resetting your body clock works only if you actually follow through and wake up with the new schedule. Sleeping in won’t make you feel rested if you struggle to reset your body clock the rest of the week. When the alarm goes off, get up.
Consider bright light therapy.
Also known as phototherapy, bright light therapy is often prescribed for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but it may help lift your mood and energy as you adjust to DST. Your doctor can tell you what amount would benefit you, often between 15 minutes to an hour. Phototherapy is delivered through a fluorescent light box that provides 10,000 lux of illumination while filtering out harmful UV rays.