According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, time changes are disruptive. In the week after a time change, there are increases in traffic accidents, workplace errors and hospital admissions.
How do we make it easier on ourselves?
Adjusting more easily to a time change involves a little planning ahead.
- Be sure to get enough sleep in the weeks leading up to a time change. That way, you’re not going into the change already depleted. Adults typically need at least seven hours of sleep a night; teens need eight.
- Gradually adjust your schedule a few nights in advance of the time change. Just going to bed and eating your evening meal 15 minutes earlier each night minimizes the abruptness of the one-hour change in your schedule if you wait until March 13.
- Set your clocks ahead before you go to bed on Saturday, and then go to bed when you normally do. Also, on Sunday morning, get up and spend a little time outside. The light will help reset your body’s clock. Even sitting by the window when you get up can have the same effect.
“Many of our body’s functions – sleep, digestion and heart rhythms – follow daily patterns called circadian rhythms,” said Dr. Sultan Niazi, Medical Director of Goshen Sleep Disorders Center. “These patterns stimulate changes in the body that keep us healthy, like hormones being released in the morning to give us energy and help us digest breakfast. Sunlight helps keep our circadian rhythms on track. But sleeping late, watching bright screens in the evening (which the body interprets as sunlight) or eating a big snack before bedtime messes up the body’s ability to stick to a schedule.”
If you’re not getting enough sleep now, the upcoming time change may be a good time to rethink your sleep and sleep habits. Getting enough sleep is as important to our health as other routines like exercising, managing stress and eating nutritious foods.
To establish a healthy sleep routine, follow these steps below:
Keep a routine: go to bed and get up at the same time every day; limit naps; and establish a relaxing, pre-sleep ritual, such as a warm bath or shower, reading, listening to soft music or other relaxing sounds. Limiting naps means keeping them to a refreshing 15–20 minutes and avoiding late afternoon so you don’t reduce your body’s need to sleep that night.
Avoid using smartphones, tablets, computers and television an hour before bedtime. Some people install a blue light filter or night mode app for their device if they’re going to use it earlier in the evening. This reduces the effect the typical blue light band has on the production of sleep-related hormones.
Exercise regularly, but not too vigorously at bedtime or 30 minutes before bedtime.
Avoid large meals, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine close to bedtime. Also avoid taking sleeping pills except under the direction of your provider.
Don’t allow your bedroom to be a multi-purpose room—reserve it for sleep, recuperation and intimacy.
Keep your bedroom comfortable by replacing worn out bedding; maintaining a comfortable temperature; and minimizing light and noise.
If you’re maintaining good sleep habits and still not getting the rest you need, you may want to talk to your primary care provider about some of the newer treatment options available to help you get the rest you deserve. For more information, click here or call Goshen Sleep Disorders Center at (574) 537-8530.