On the second Sunday of March, most Americans will set their clocks forward, “springing ahead” for Daylight Savings Time (DST). As the name suggests, the time change “saves” daylight later in the day, meaning its darker when it’s time to wake up. Although it can seem like a nice change from the darker winter days to have sunlight longer, and it’s a sure sign spring is finally on its way, how does losing an hour of sleep affect our health?
You’re not the only one feeling tired and groggy the Monday after the time change. One study found that the average person received 40 minutes less sleep on that day. When DST throws off your sleep cycle, it’s disrupting your circadian rhythm, or the 24-hour cycle that helps manage the body’s processes and functions, which is regulated largely by sunlight. A disrupted sleep-wake cycle can not only contribute to insomnia, but these cycles play a big role in mental and physical well-being, affecting our moods and metabolism. The good news is, even though circadian rhythms are internal, they can be influenced by environmental factors.
In the days leading up to Daylight Savings, try implementing the below tips to keep your sleep on track.
- Go to bed a Little Earlier: Starting a few days before DST, try to go to bed 10 or 15 minutes earlier than you did the night before. This will help you feel more rested and refreshed in the mornings, and will be easier to implement than making your wake-up time earlier.
- Create a Bedtime Routine: Implementing a routine of relaxing activities and a calming environment can really signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. We recommend a hot bath or shower, a warm cup of herbal tea (non-caffeinated is key), and cozy and relaxing bedding to set the tone. This soothing pillow and weighted blanket are some of our favs.
- Get Outside: Because our circadian rhythm is regulated by sunlight, making sure you’re getting outside to soak in those rays is vital, especially earlier in the day. Make sure you check out our post here for some other reasons why getting outside can be super beneficial to your wellbeing.
- Eat and Drink Mindfully: Changing your diet to prioritize sleep, especially before and after you “spring forward”, will help make sure you fall asleep fast and stay asleep longer. Avoid drinking coffee or alcohol within four hours of going to bed, as both can negatively affect your sleep patterns. Also make sure you’re consuming any “heavy” meals earlier in the evening, and try not to snack close to bedtime.