Each spring, many people across the United States lose an hour of sleep as we “spring forward” and set our clocks ahead an hour. The change to longer days is generally a welcome one, as it signifies the end of winter and the coming spring, but the loss of sleep can be tough and have lingering effects on your typical routine. Here are our top tips for preparing the right way:
If daylight saving time affects your ability to get enough sleep or alters your routine significantly, you might experience symptoms like grogginess, irritability, headaches, or increased appetite. The week before daylight saving time goes into effect, try to go to sleep a little bit earlier by 10 or 15 minutes each night. Set your alarm for the next morning earlier by that same increment of time.
Let there be light
If you work on a traditional schedule, it’s harder to wake up with the sun for those first few weeks after daylight saving time because the sun comes up later than it previously did. So even if it’s not sunlight, try exposing yourself to light soon after you wake up in the morning. Especially on the Sunday morning daylight saving time goes into effect, go be sure to spend time outdoors and get some morning sun to start the process of resetting your internal clock.
And then make it dark
In the same way that exposure to light helps you reset your internal clock, so does creating darkness before you go to sleep. If your schedule dictates that you go to sleep early — and in the summer, going to sleep early can mean going to sleep during daylight hours — make sure that you can keep your bedroom dark. Blackout curtains are a good option, but if those aren’t practical, try a sleep mask.
Adjust the time of your other routines
Your routines other than bedtime will also need to adjust to new daylight hours. You can ease into those transitions, too. For example, start eating dinner a little bit earlier the week before daylight saving time kicks into effect. Don’t neglect your bedtime routine at this point either. Make sure you still have at least 30 minutes to wind down before bed without screens, loud noises or bright lights.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
Your sleep hygiene and the quality of sleep you’re getting are as important as ever now. Don’t go into the transition to daylight saving time with sleep debt. This isn’t a good time of year to be getting less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night.