HERE ARE SIX STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU COPE WITH THE TIME CHANGE and disruptions in your sleep schedule:
1. Listen to your body and follow the cues it sends you. “Our internal clocks govern many biological functions including our sleep and wake cycles,” says Sharon Petersen, RN, MHA, Intermountain’s Director of Employee Health. “Resist the urge to force your body into a new schedule. When you feel tired, go to bed. If your bedtime was at 10 p.m. before the time change and you feel tired at 9, turn out the lights and crawl into bed at 9. As you make the transition from daylight savings time your body will prompt you when it needs rest.”
2. When it’s bedtime, turn off ALL lights, including the television, your phone, and your computer screens. Melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, is inhibited by light, but as night falls it circulates more widely, which causes us to feel drowsy. “Small amounts of light can disrupt our sleep-wake cycle, so don’t underestimate the impact the lights from electronics have on your ability to sleep well,” Sharon says.
3. If your body is still on the daylight savings time schedule and you wake up an hour earlier than you need to, get up. “Treat yourself to some exercise before you get ready for work,” says Sharon. “It will not only energize you, but it’s a great way to start your day.”
4. Get up as soon as you hear your alarm. “It can be tempting to stay under the warm covers, but don’t hit the snooze button and subject yourself to the stress of anticipating the next time the alarm will go off,” she says.
5. Flip on the bedroom lamp when it’s time to get out of bed. That signals your brain it’s time to wake up. “The timing of our internal body clocks is influenced by light, which causes melatonin production to slow,” says Sharon. “When you expose yourself to light after you wake up, your body will know sleep time is over.”
6. Be sure to eat a good breakfast. “It really is the most important meal of the day,” she says. “Breakfast can provide you with lasting energy and breaking your night-long fast with a nutritious breakfast will help wake up your body and mind.”
“Nothing starts your day off better than a good night’s sleep,” says Sharon. “As you transition away from daylight savings time, give these survival strategies a try and help your body adjust to the change.”