Whether you love the change or hate the change, we’ll all be making the “spring forward” soon as daylight saving time (DST) comes back to the calendar. Having to reset the clock by a measly hour may sound like no big deal – but as anyone with a complicated relationship with sleep or young kids can tell you, DST can wreak havoc on those circadian rhythms. Here are some tips that will make it so that changing the clock doesn’t change your life for the worse.
1. Take it slow. If you hate any change in your sleep routine or you have children, you’ll fare better if you ease into DST. A week before the change, gradually start making bedtime a little earlier. You may not fall asleep until your regular knock off hour but your body will get the message that it’s time to relax and prepare for sleep – which will usually lead to falling asleep somewhat earlier. By the time you’re actually resetting your clocks, you’ll have already reset yourself.
2. There’s an app for that. That’s right, there are actually a myriad of apps, so your cell phone can help you make the transition to DST. For those who find waking up is hard to do after the time change, the Sleep if U Can app is a life and job saver. To turn it off in the morning, you have to take a photo that matches the one you set along with the alarm. Having trouble getting to sleep? The Relax and Sleep app features 35 ambient sounds designed to soothe you to dreamland.
3. Use the extra daylight for exercise. Changing the clock twice a year throws off your body’s natural rhythms, but the good news is physical activity can make the adjustment easier. On the first full day of DST, get up early, get moving and get as much sunlight as you can so your body gets the message that it’s morning. You’ll not only feel better, but also sleep better, too. The National Sleep Foundation found that people who exercise are more likely to get a good night’s sleep no matter what the date.
4. Consider a week of teetotalism. A nightcap before bed might seem like a fine idea when sleep isn’t forthcoming, but alcohol can actually interfere with normal sleep cycles and make it even harder to get some shut-eye. Better choices for pre-bedtime snacks include the classic mug of warm milk, a small bowl of oatmeal or half a bagel topped with peanut butter. Just make sure you give yourself some time to digest before your head hits the pillow.
5. Hit the drugstore. Your levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone, are thrown out of whack every spring thanks to the time change. Taking a small amount (e.g., five miligrams) of the hormone — which is available as an over the counter supplement — a few hours before sunset can bring your sleep cycles back to normal faster.
Finally, try not to deviate too much from your usual routine because of daylight-saving time. You’ll adjust more quickly to the change if you adhere to your normal schedule.
Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves covering technology news and the ways that technology can make life easier. Follow her on Twitter @TechyJessy.
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