Healthy Living

Daylight saving time: Create habits for a good night's sleep

(Elena Elisseeva/Dreamstime/TNS)
(Elena Elisseeva/Dreamstime/TNS)

Sunday is the beginning of daylight saving time; meaning clocks will “spring forward” one hour to allow for more sunlight in the evenings.

If the thought of losing an hour of sleep makes you groan, here is some advice from sleep experts that can help make the adjustment a bit easier.

Spring Ahead On Saturday

Even though the time change officially begins on Sunday, sleep experts suggest making some sleep adjustments a couple days prior, which can be especially helpful for children. Start tonight — go to bed 30 minutes earlier and wake up 30 minutes earlier on Saturday. Try to be in bed an hour earlier on Saturday night to be prepared for daylight saving time on Sunday. This strategy will allow your family to better adjust before starting the week on Monday.

Avoid Sleeping In Weekends

Did you know that getting out of bed at the same time every morning — even on weekends — is the single best way to improve sleep? Pick a wake time that you can be consistent with, even on weekends. The more your weekend/weekday sleep schedules differ, the more likely you will experience jetlag-like symptoms during the week.

Naps

If you need to make up for lost sleep, take a short nap during the day rather than sleeping in. A nap will help pay off your sleep debt without disturbing your natural sleep-wake rhythm. The ideal nap is before 3 p.m. and less than an hour.

Exercise

Even moderate exercise, such as walking during the day, can help you sleep better at night.

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

If you feel a little groggy next week, try not to overcompensate with extra coffee. Avoid coffee and caffeinated beverages four to six hours before bedtime and avoid alcohol before bed.

Alarm Clock

I just learned that if you need an alarm clock to wake up, you are not getting enough sleep. (I definitely need an alarm clock!) Set one alarm and do not hit snooze. Sleep science says hitting the snooze button disrupts healthy sleep patterns and can leave you feeling drowsy for the rest of the day.

Healthy Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to habits shown to help encourage better rest.

• Create a relaxing bedtime routine to help signal your body for sleep, for example: warm bath, brush teeth, read a book.

• Put your phone, computer or tablet away at least an hour before bedtime. The high-intensity light stimulates your brain and hinders melatonin, a hormone that triggers sleepiness.

• Research shows that getting eight hours of sleep every night is essential for good health.

• Be exposed to sunlight and bright lights during waking hours and keep bedroom as dark as possible during rest.

• If concerning thoughts are keeping you awake, try journaling before bed or making a mental-list of things you are grateful for while in bed. It can help overcome feelings of stress. Research suggests that our brains cannot easily focus on both positive and negative stimuli.

Take-away: A good day starts with a good night sleep. Sleep is one of, if not the most, important components of health and well-being. Use this time to take a closer look at your sleep habits.

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Kylie Alger is a certified wellness coach and co-owner of the Well-Woman: Body, Mind & Spirit. Comments: kylie@thewellwoman.org

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