While the thought of gaining an extra hour of sleep is often celebrated, the time change can still impact sleep patterns and routines, according to those at Mercy Health — Youngstown.
“Our bodies have an internal clock, our circadian rhythm, that tells our body when to sleep and when to wake up. This chemical rhythm develops from consistent schedules. Even a mild adjustment to that schedule like the clocks falling back one hour can disrupt our sleep routines,” said Dr. Joseph Cataline, a sleep medicine provider for Mercy Health.
“Many don’t prepare for changes in daylight saving time, especially when the prospect of an extra hour of sleep seems like a benefit. However, our bodies still may not feel ready to sleep at a certain time if we don’t prepare for the change, which could make waking up more difficult.”
Maintaining a regular schedule is key, and the best way to mitigate those effects is to prepare for the change a few days before it starts, according to Mercy Health.
Mercy Health offered the following tips to ease the transition from daylight saving time:
- Adjust your schedule. Start by going to bed 15 minutes later a few days before the time change. Avoiding screens and dimming lights in the later part of the evening will help by prompting your brain to release melatonin, which initiates a sense of sleepiness.
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime ritual. Being exhausted is not the same as being sleepy. Physical exhaustion requires time to relax and unwind, which should be done prior to heading to bed.
- Rise and shine at the same time, even on the weekends. Even though you may not feel like getting up at the same time you would for work or school on a Saturday, a fixed routine helps your body regulate its sleep pattern and get the most out of the hours you sleep. Exposing yourself to as much sunlight as possible during early morning hours also helps.
- Avoid long naps. As luxurious as napping sounds, long naps can dramatically affect the quality of your nighttime sleep. If you need to nap, try limiting it to 15–20 minutes in the late morning or early afternoon.
- Exercise regularly. Even moderate exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes three times a week, can help you sleep better. Just be sure you finish 2–3 hours before bedtime. Exercise raises body temperature which can interfere with falling asleep.
- Watch what you drink and eat before bedtime. Avoid caffeine after 5 p.m. and if you are hungry, eat small snacks, not large meals. And while alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it also disrupts your sleep during the second half of the night.
Dr. Cataline recommends getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
A dark, quiet, cool room is the best for sleep. If noise is needed, find an audio-only source to play in the background. Blue light technology can suppress the body’s automatic rise in melatonin that helps people feel drowsy, so it’s best to avoid electronics in the last two hours before bedtime.