Moving our clocks in either direction changes our main cue — light — for setting our circadian rhythm. How well your energy level adapts depends on many factors, including your personal health, sleep habits, and lifestyle.
The good news is that in general, gaining an hour in the fall is generally easier to adjust to than losing an hour in the springtime. While either event can disrupt our sleep schedule, it’s also a great time to reset your sleep habits in addition to your clock. These tips also work for resetting your body clock any other time of year, for example, after traveling or when you experience multiple time adjustments over a week or more.
How to Reset Your Sleep Cycle
- Stick to a schedule – The trick to a healthy sleep cycle is to get into a routine. If you can, go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. You may also want to avoid spending more time in bed than needed.
- Use bright light to help manage your internal clock. Expose yourself to sunlight in the morning and avoid bright light in the evening.
- Keep your bedroom dark. Create a sleep environment that’s quiet, dark and cool. These are cues to your body that it’s time for sleep.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep. That strengthens the association between your bed and sleep. It may help to remove work materials, computers, and televisions from your bedroom.
- Exercise regularly. Working out is not only good for your body, it’s also good for your sleeping habits. Studies show that people who exercise regularly sleep better at night and are more alert during the day.
- Keep naps short. An afternoon nap can give you a burst of energy to help you get through the rest of your day, but if you sleep too long, your body will see the nap as your main sleep time. The perfect nap is about 20 minutes long.
- Limit caffeine. The cup of coffee that wakes you up in the morning has the same effect at night. Cut out the colas and coffee entirely, or avoid anything with caffeine for at least six hours before bedtime.