Daylight saving time kicks in during the wee hours of March 8. Longer days and the anticipation of warmer weather are great. But springing ahead can also leave you feeling a little backward.
Moving your clocks in either direction changes your circadian rhythm, your body’s natural 24-hour clock that’s cued by light. Just a one-hour shift can make a huge impact and take a toll on your productivity, concentration, mood and overall physical and mental health.
The shift to daylight saving time can be particularly challenging for the millions of Americans already struggling to get a good night’s sleep. Your iPhone says 6 a.m., but your internal body clock is still set to 5 a.m. You may feel groggy for several days, especially in the mornings.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers some simple tips to make the time-change transition a little easier.
Get at least seven hours of sleep (for adults) or eight hours of sleep (for teens) per night before and after the time change. The AASM offers a handy calculator to figure out your bedtime.
Gradually adjust sleep and wake times beginning two to three nights before the time change. Shift your bedtime 15 or 20 minutes earlier each night. Adjust the timing of other daily routines. For example, start eating dinner a little earlier each night.
Change the clocks ahead of time
On Saturday night, set your clocks ahead one hour in the early evening. Then go to sleep at your normal bedtime.
Create a sleep-friendly environment
Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol, exercise several hours before bedtime, practice pre-bedtime rituals (i.e., a hot bath), and wear ear plugs and an eye mask. While there’s no evidence certain diets actually influence your circadian rhythm, carbs tend to make it easier to fall asleep.
Soak up the sun
Sunlight helps naturally reset your body clock. Get outside to enjoy the added sunlight in the evenings, and open curtains to bring natural lighting indoors.
Brace for Monday
Monday mornings can be a slog any time of year, but the Monday after a time change might leave you feeling exhausted. Go to bed early enough on Sunday night to get plenty of sleep before the work or school week begins. And be aware that you’re not the only one feeling a little out of it. Studies have shown a significant spike in accident rates on the Monday following the time switch.
Don’t let daylight saving time disrupt your life. With a few simple adjustments, you’ll be feeling like yourself in no time.