March. It comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. While winter gives way to spring, another change is on the horizon: Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 2 AM. As you probably know, this means an extra hour of sunlight for 8 whole months!
For many, the return of DST is a welcome event. The days get longer and there’s more time to be outside. However, while the added light is certainly great, it can have adverse effects on your sleep cycle. Here are just a few tips to help you adjust to the new season.
Stick to a Schedule
Unlike in the autumn “fall back,” the beginning of Daylight Saving Time means you’ll lose an hour of sleep as we “spring forward.” For some, losing that hour of sleep can really mess with their circadian rhythm, or the body’s normal 24-hour cycle. It’s a lot like jet lag and losing an hour is much harder on the body than gaining one.
In order to compensate for that lost hour of precious sleep, try hitting the hay an hour earlier than you normally would the night before DST goes into effect. If your body is used to 8 hours of sleep a night, for example, maybe turn in at 10 instead of 11. Make sure you wake up at your normal time. Oversleeping can actually be just as detrimental to your sleep cycle.
Limit the Light
Your brain reacts differently to light and darkness. The longer daylight lasts, the less likely you are to become noticeably tired. This is controlled by a hormone in your brain called melatonin. If the extra hours of daylight are keeping you up, try investing is some heavy curtains or other ways to darken your bedroom.
Another thing you can do to limit your light intake is to put away the screens! Computer, tablet, and phone screens wreak havoc on your eyes and brain. They give off mostly blue light, just like the sun. As your brain interprets this light, it’s tricked into thinking it’s still daytime, thus keeping you awake longer. (Limiting your time in front of a screen is a good idea all year long, anyway!)
Adjust in Increments
It can be a challenging to find the perfect hours to go to sleep and wake up. However, not altering your schedule or changing it too much can have some adverse effects on your overall rest. On average, it takes your body a full 24 hours to adjust to a one-hour time difference. Point being, don’t try to stay up a few hours longer than you normally would all at once.
While this seems like a lot of preparation for a shift in daylight hours, taking these steps will help you not only wake up refreshed, but also fall asleep more easily. For more health and sleeping tips, be sure to check out the rest of our blog!