Are you looking forward to “falling back” and getting that extra hour of sleep this weekend? We found some tips from the Cleveland Clinic to help you make the most of that extra hour and keep you going until you have to give it back next spring.
Time changes in the fall and spring inevitably alter people’s schedules, says neurologist and sleep expert Tina Waters, MD, and it can take the body up to a week or more to adjust.
For your health and safety, Dr. Waters offers these four tips for dealing with the time change:
- Make gradual shifts as needed
In autumn, Dr. Waters says, changing your sleep schedule isn’t necessary. If you fall asleep at your normal time, your body will feel the same when you wake. About two weeks before we spring forward, go to bed and wake up 10 to 15 minutes earlier each day. This will help your body slowly adjust.
- Keep your schedule
No matter if it’s fall or spring, try to manage your schedule accordingly, she says. In autumn, keep things as close to normal as possible. If you usually wake at 8 a.m., do it the morning of the time change, if you can (although the clock says 9 a.m.).
“Yes, it’ll be an hour later, but you’ll gain that hour of sleep,” she says. “That’s beneficial for most people.”
Be consistent with eating, social, bed and exercise times, too.
- Have a nighttime ritual
Bedtime routines aren’t just for the little ones. You should make a habit of slowing your body down. Dim your lights, Dr. Waters says. Take a warm – not hot – shower. Put your phone, computer or tablet away. Turn off the television and pick up a non-suspenseful book.
Also, avoid screen time close to bedtime. Electronics’ high-intensity light hinders melatonin, a hormone that triggers sleepiness. It stimulates your brain and makes sleep difficult the same way sunlight does.
- No long naps
Thinking of taking a nice long nap in the afternoon? It could backfire, Dr. Waters says. Taking a longer daytime nap could make it harder to get a full night’s sleep.
“One sleep model drives us to want to sleep and another keeps our sleep cycle coordinated. We want them in alignment so we can actually fall asleep,” she says. “Napping re-cues the body’s drive to sleep, so you won’t be as tired at night as you need to be if you’ve taken that nap.”
No matter what, Dr. Waters says, work the hour change into your schedule. The more you are able to stick to your normal routine, the faster your body will adjust to the clock. Keep these tips in mind and maybe next Monday wont be as rough as you think it will be!
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