Spring Forward to Better Sleep

If this past weekend’s spring-forward time change has you feeling a little off, you’re not alone. The average American worker gets on average about 40 minutes less sleep the Sunday night after switching to Daylight Saving Time (DST), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The good news is that by following tips from sleep experts, it’s possible to make up for lost sleep, rest up and feel refreshed.

“Any change in time that affects our schedule can throw us off and cause some people to have problems sleeping,” said Edward Mezerhane, M.D., an adult and pediatric sleep medicine specialist affiliated with Baptist Health. “Attaining a good night’s sleep is possible by making a few adjustments.”

Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time

It usually takes an average of one to three days for the body to acclimate to the shift in time, according to Dr. Mezerhane. Knowing that can help get you adjust to the time change. If you find yourself not sleepy when it’s time for bed, he suggests pushing bedtime back 15 minutes a day. By the third or fourth day, your body should be in sync with the new time.

Moving forward, there are certain things you can do to keep your body’s circadian rhythm on par. Most importantly, Dr. Mezerhane stresses the significance of a establishing and keeping a consistent sleep schedule.

“Be strictest with your wake-up time,” he said. “This means not straying from it for even 15 minutes, and especially not on weekends.” Dr. Mezerhane offers the following advice for improving sleep.

Keys to Sleep Success

1. Maintain a sleep routine.

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Do something you find peaceful and relaxing just before bedtime. This can include reading a book, listening to music, drawing or painting, breathing exercises or meditation. Preferably, do your peaceful activity outside of the bedroom.
  • 2. Disconnect. Turn off TVs and computers, and put down tablets and cell phones, two hours prior to going to bed.

    3. Limit caffeine, alcohol and nicotine consumption six hours before bedtime.

    4. Refrain from exercising in the four hours before going to sleep. The first signal that the body is ready to go to sleep is body temperature, according to Dr. Mezerhane. Exercise raises body temperature, which also turns up the body’s metabolism.

    5. Only go to bed when you’re sleepy.

    6. Say hello to the sunshine. “Exposing yourself to natural light within 60 minutes of waking up helps set your body’s natural clock on the right course for the day,” said Dr. Mezerhane. He suggests opening the blinds and curtains immediately upon getting out of bed and not wearing sunglasses during the morning commute, if possible.

    7. Scratch the nap. Being awake accumulates sleep debt, and taking a nap negates that debt. It may delay your natural sleep time that night, says Dr. Mezerhane.

    People often think that one day of waking early and being unable to return to a slumber means they have insomnia, says Dr. Mezerhane. If that happens, he cautions not to worsen the problem by worrying.

    Similarly, occasionally feeling sleepy at work or during daily activities because you didn’t get a good night’s sleep is normal, he says. “But if you find yourself falling asleep at your desk or having excessive daytime sleepiness, you need to see a sleep specialist.”

    Sweet dreams!

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