The clocks go back one hour this Sunday. To some, it’s a joyous event in which the universe has bestowed upon you one extra hour to roll around in your warm, fluffy bed. To others, this can still be a cause of stress for a number of reasons.
Fret not: Here are some steps you can take starting now to help your body adjust to the shift in your sleep cycle, as well as some “best practices” for all year round.
1. First Thing’s First – Stop Worrying
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that stress negatively impacts your health. Unfortunately, in many cases, we’re our own worst enemies when it comes to freaking ourselves out unnecessarily. We know that this might be a stressful time, but cut yourself a break. Remember: You’ve surely survived much more drastic blows to your sleep cycle.
2. “Slow Ride, Take it Easy”
One of the keys to adjusting to any time change is to ease yourself into it. Starting tonight, go to bed about 15 minutes later than usual. In a couple of days, go to bed 30 minutes later. Keep adding these increments, and by the time Sunday rolls around, your body will already have the hang of things.
3. Slowly Shift Dinner to Later
If you’re a creature of habit and your dinner time typically rolls around at the same time every night, this is another way to help your body get the hint. It’s also a good idea to avoid heavy or spicy foods. As we’ve all learned the hard way, they can contribute to indigestion, which can keep you tossing and turning.
4. Lighting Is Your Friend
Of all the things that impact your circadian rhythm, light is certainly one of the strongest. Your body uses light as a “visual cue” for what time it is, and how that relates to what your schedule is typically like.When you first wake up, open your shades to let light in and signify that it’s time to power up. When you’re getting ready for bed, dim the lights to allow your body time to slow down.
5. Use Relaxation Techniques Before Bed
Bedtime rituals are a great way to train your body. Instead of being glued to your smartphone or laptop, try taking a warm bath, reading a book, or having a low-key stretch session. This is a swift one-two punch for relaxing your mind, which in turns relaxes your body and makes it easier to snooze.
6. Go Easy on the Caffeine and Booze
These stimulants can be disruptive (shocker, right?). Perhaps you’ve heard the myth that alcohol is better for sleep. While it may help you to pass out faster, research actually shows that being boozed up
typically makes it harder for you to sleep soundly through the night, which in turn prevents you from getting the precious REM sleep you need to wake up feeling refreshed.
7. Choose Your Naps Wisely
Napping is a dangerous game we play with ourselves. Too much or too little sleep and you could be worse off than you were before the nap. Just make sure that you’re not napping too late into the day, as you may find yourself staring at the ceiling at night.
8. Do Your Gym Session Earlier
We can’t say enough encouraging things about working out. If you have a regular routine, great!However, it’s important to note that intense workouts too close to bedtime can mess with your sleep too. You may find yourself in bed before your body agrees it’s time to count sheep.
9. Cultivate a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Disruptions to your sleep cycle can make you more sensitive, which is just a snowball effect for more disruption. To make your bedroom a cozier nest, try some tools like sleep-shades for your windows, eye masks, earplugs, and even white noise machines.
10. Get Out of Bed if You Can’t Sleep
Have you ever found yourself having trouble sleeping, and then started to stress yourself out thinking about how you should be sleeping? This is a vicious cycle. Don’t fall victim to it – shift your focus by getting out of bed and doing something relaxing, like the techniques in tip #5 above.
We hope your transition this Daylight Savings is smooth and seamless. If you find yourself under the weather, come see us at one of our four locations or schedule a house call or virtual consultation!