It's that time of year again: Daylight saving is upon us, which means we need to switch up some habits to ensure the best sleep possible (and avoid being a groggy mess at work or school on Monday).
The prospect of an extra hour of sleep is appealing, but you can't rely on it. Understanding your personal sleep habits is vital here. Use the following tips to prepare yourself as best you can, but relax if you still encounter some bumps along the way -- especially if you're a light sleeper or an early riser -- and remind yourself that it will improve as the week goes by.
Get a Head Start
Establishing a regular sleep schedule now, rather than at the stroke of midnight on daylight saving, will help you better adjust to the shift. Set a regular time to go to bed and wake up, and try to stick to it for a week before you change your clocks. It might be tough, but you should also avoid oversleeping on the weekends. You'll be surprised at how much this process will help you get back into the weekday groove.
If you have a sleep disorder, however, you should consult with your doctor for additional advice.
Create a Sleep Oasis
Make your bedroom conducive to good sleep with a few simple touches. The success of a sleep-friendly room lies in its coolness, quiet, and lack of distractions. Make your room as dark as possible by closing the blinds or curtains. Remove other sources of light, such as devices and flashing electronics. This will also take away the sense of urgency to respond to an email or text late at night. Keep your room cool by lowering the temperature, turning on a fan, or opening a window (weather permitting, of course). The more comfortable your space is, the more satisfying your slumber will be.
Make a Bedtime Routine
There are obvious smart choices that you can make for good sleep hygiene, such as avoiding alcohol and caffeine around bedtime, but there are many other ways to get to sleep sooner. Consider exercising in the evening to get tired naturally and comfortably. Put your electronic devices away in a drawer and instead pull out a relaxing book or magazine to lull you to sleep. This is your time to decompress, so do what makes you feel good.
Keep Up Other Good Habits
Getting a solid night's sleep relies on many factors that take place long before bedtime. Eat balanced meals, exercise regularly, and allow yourself enough personal time to relax. A healthy day translates into deep, sound sleep, regardless of any time change.
Take Back Your Morning
Many of us turn to our phones and electronic devices first thing in the morning, setting us up for technology overload throughout the day. Why not make your morning a little more meaningful? Invest in a real alarm clock so you won't be tempted to check updates on your gadgets as soon as you wake up, and use the extra hour you've been afforded to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Sit down to a hearty, healthy breakfast, or read the newspaper together before heading out the door. Life gets busy, but daylight saving provides an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the company of the people most important to you.
There's no time like the present to make positive changes to your sleep schedule. Daylight saving time might throw you a curveball, but once you get accustomed to the time change and improve your overall sleep habits, you just might find yourself sleeping better and getting the most out of every day.