30 Healthy Tricks for Resetting Your Sleep During Daylight Saving Time
Before you reach for the melatonin, try a natural tack.
Daylight Saving Time, the period beginning in March and ending in November when we set our clocks ahead or back a full hour, is great for those who can't imagine a life without ample sunlight—and a major burden to those who find themselves struggling to sleep because of it. "With daylight saving time ending this weekend, we are all essentially gaining an hour of sleep, but it is also a bit of a change to our 24-hour internal clock, our circadian rhythm," says certified sleep science coach Bill Fish, founder of Tuck.com, the sleep information site. "It may take a bit of time for your body to adjust to the change."
The good news? Even if you're having a hard time getting to bed at first, there are ample ways to get a more restful night's sleep in no time. With that in mind, we've compiled these 30 healthy tricks for resetting your sleep during Daylight Saving Time—no fancy tools or medication needed.
Cut out caffeine after breakfast.
Hard though it may be, ditching that mid-afternoon cup of coffee might just be the best thing you do for your sleep schedule when time changes. Stimulants like caffeine can wreak havoc on your body's natural rhythm as it is, and its effects are only compounded by a lack of sleep. However, that doesn't mean just nixing the coffee.
"Chocolate (especially dark chocolate) should be avoided close to bed as it contains compounds that are structurally similar to caffeine," says biochemist Dr. Mike Roussell, Ph.D., creator of Neutein, a supplement that promotes better sleep. In addition to nixing that late-night chocolate fix, skipping certain headache remedies that contain caffeine will help you out in the long run.
Make a gradual sleep transition.
While it may be tempting to try to adjust your sleep in just one night, doing so can do more harm than good. Instead, take a gradual approach.
"Those who find the transition back from daylight saving difficult can try going to bed 15 minutes later each night starting from the Wednesday before the clock change. So, if you normally go to bed at 11:00 p.m., go to bed at 11:15 p.m. on the Wednesday. The following night, go to bed at 11:30 p.m., the next night go to bed at 11:45, then on Saturday go to bed at midnight," suggests certified clinical sleep health expert Martin Reed, M.Ed, founder of Insomnia Coach.
Work out during the day.
If you're eager to adjust to the time change during Daylight Saving Time, try adjusting your workout schedule first. The results of a study published in the journal Sleep reveal that getting 225 minutes of exercise during daytime hours in a single week increased study subjects' ability to nod off. However, those who did the same at night actually had a harder time getting rest.
Start your day earlier.
As painful as it may be on the first day you attempt it, starting your day earlier can yield some major benefits for your sleep cycle when the time change hits. "The best way to avoid tiredness after daylight savings time is to get up a bit earlier," says Dr. Kat Lederle, Ph.D., a sleep medicine specialist and sleep therapist.
Better yet, doing so might make you less fatigued throughout the day. "As daylight starts and ends earlier post daylight savings time, this will expose you to more sunlight and therefore inhibit your production of melatonin. This will help you feel less tired," says Lederle.
Maintain the same nighttime schedule.
Think DST is a good time to start making major shifts in your nighttime routine? Think again. According to a study published in BMC Public Health, college students with irregular bedtime habits had significant increases in daytime sleepiness and had more difficulty falling asleep than those who stuck to the same schedule night after night.
Sleep with your phone out of sight (and mind).
Having your phone right next to you while you're in bed will not only make you conscious of the often-unpleasant schedule time associated with Daylight Saving Time, it may also keep you from getting the rest you need.
According to research conducted at the University of Haifa, the blue light emitted from devices like phones, tablets, TVs, and computer screens decreases both the duration and quality of sleep, compounding the difficulty associated with adjusting your sleep cycle to Daylight Saving Time.
Pump up the fiber in your diet.
One surprising way you can make over your diet and sleep schedule for the better when Daylight Saving Time hits? Ramp up the fiber you're eating. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine revealed that low-fiber diets were associated with an increased risk of sleep disturbances, so go ahead and load your meals with some extra leafy greens, flax seeds, or whole grains.
Add some mindfulness meditation to your routine.
A little mindfulness can go a long way when it comes to adjusting to the time change. According to a 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, older adults with sleep disturbances who added some mindfulness meditations to their routines for six weeks slept better than those who stuck to their usual routine.
Soak up some sunlight.
The prescription for better sleep when Daylight Saving Time messes up your sleep schedule? Enjoying some more sunlight. "[Get] as much natural light exposure as possible on Sunday morning to help reset the body clock—then go to bed at your normal bedtime on Sunday evening to help you get up as normal on Monday," suggests Reed. And research confirms it can work for even those with a seriously hard time adjusting.
In fact, researchers at the Tepecik Education and Research Hospital and Ege University in Turkey found that elderly study subjects who increased their sunlight exposure between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. slept better than those who skipped the sunshine treatment.
Skip the booze.
With the cold setting in, the dark days, and the havoc Daylight Saving Time can wreak on your sleep schedule, you might be especially eager to enjoy a cocktail or two. However, resisting this impulse will leave you better rested in the end.
According to researchers at Penn State University and Brigham and Women's Hospital, alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of REM problems, leading to shorter and less restful sleep. "Alcohol disrupts your natural sleep cycles and thus should be avoided prior to bed," says Dr. Roussell.
Don't crank up the heat.
When Daylight Saving Time ends in November, the chill in the air is likely more than enough to have you reaching for the thermostat in a bid to stay warm. However, doing so can cause more trouble than it's worth. Researchers at the Clinique du Sommeil in Lille, France found that temperatures between 60.8º and 66.2º Fahrenheit encouraged more restful sleep, so buy yourself some extra hours in bed (and save yourself some money on heating bills) by leaving your house pleasantly cool.
Bulk up your protein intake.
When the cold weather rolls in, many people tend to crave heartier meals. The good news? You can fill up without relying on starchy carbs and improve your sleep in one fell swoop by adding some extra protein to your diet. In fact, researchers at Purdue University found that overweight and obese study subjects who increased their protein intake enjoyed better sleep after modifying their diets.
Skip the nap.
As tempting as it might be to take a nap to combat the changes in your schedule associated with Daylight Saving Time, doing so might make your sleeplessness worse. Even if it's hard over the first few days following the time switch, do your best to stay awake during the day and you'll have an easier time resting at night.
Ditch the sugary snacks.
Though sugary snacks may give you a sudden burst of energy, they won't yield any positive long-term benefits when it comes to resetting your sleep cycle during Daylight Saving Time. In fact, according to the results of one joint study from researchers at Columbia University and St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital, sugary foods are associated with more frequent sleep disturbances and less restorative sleep on the whole.
Start your mornings with oatmeal.
What you eat in the morning can have a serious impact on how well you adjust to the time change when Daylight Saving Time begins or ends. So, how do you get your body to reset? Try starting your mornings with a bowl of oatmeal. Research published in the Journal of Circadian Rhythms reveals that people who ate a tryptophan-rich breakfast, like oatmeal, increased their nighttime melatonin production, making it easier to nod off.
Enjoy an earlier dinner.
Want to get your sleep schedule back on track when the time changes? Make dinner an earlier event. "Abstaining from eating two to three hours before sleep may help with sleep as the hunger hormone ghrelin can cause your body to be sensitive to neurotransmitters that help with falling sleep," says Dr. Roussell.
Dim your lights before getting in bed.
Turn your lights down before bed and you might not even notice the time change. A study published in the journal Circadian Rhythms reveals that exposure to low color-temperature light, like those in the red and yellow family, or dimmer traditional lights, can aid in melatonin production, making it easier to fall asleep, despite the time change.
Put on some socks before bedtime.
Keeping your feet toasty warm when you head to bed could be the simplest way to reduce the overall impact of Daylight Saving Time on your sleep schedule. Researchers at Seoul National University found that individuals who wore socks to bed reduced the amount of time it took them to fall asleep by 7.5 minutes and slept for 32 minutes longer in total.
Reduce your intake of fried foods
While you may feel sluggish and sleepy after a meal of fried food, eating those greasy treats isn't actually going to do you any favors when it comes to resetting your internal clock. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, high saturated fat intake is associated with less restful sleep and more wake ups during the night.
Ditch the midnight snack.
Sorry, late-night snackers: grabbing something from the fridge when you can't sleep might make your DST-related sleeplessness worse. The results of a 2011 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reveal a relationship between nocturnal eating and poor sleep, so, whenever possible, give yourself a break between your last meal and when you hit the hay.
Tell Fido to hit the road.
If you're eager to improve your sleep quality and quantity when Daylight Saving Time rolls around, it's time to give your pets the boot from your bed. According to research out of the Mayo Clinic, keeping pets in your bed can make it harder to go to sleep. However, don't send them too far away: knowing they're near can actually improve your sleep quality.
Talk to a doctor about your depression.
The change of seasons often ushers in more than just sleep disturbances, but changes in mood, too. If you're feeling a little worse for wear when Daylight Saving Time comes around, it's time to talk to your doctor. According to one study, there's a strong bi-directional relationship between sleep loss and depression, meaning the more sleep you lose, the more likely you are to find yourself depressed, and the more depressed you are, the more sleep you're likely to lose.
Put on some music.
While the cold weather and potential sleep loss might not make you feel like dancing, it could be worth it to crank up the tunes, anyway. According to a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, listening to classical music before bed significantly improved sleep quality among students with sleeping troubles. If you think that listening to your favorite book will yield similar results, think again: audiobooks were found to have no effect.
Incorporate massage into your self-care routine.
Knock out those aches and pains associated with the change in weather as well as your sleepless nights in one fell swoop by adding some massage to your routine. According to a study published in Sleep Science, massage increased sleep quality among women with insomnia.
Wind down with some herbal tea.
Instead of enjoying a nightcap, end your day the healthy way (and show Daylight Saving Time who's boss) by sipping some herbal tea instead. The results of one Taiwanese study reveal that consumption of chamomile tea is associated with improved sleep quality and reduced rates of depression.
Treat yourself to a bubble bath.
A little relaxation at the end of a long day in the form of a warm bath can make all the difference when it comes to fighting the sleep-altering effects of Daylight Saving Time. The results of one study conducted on 20-something female volunteers reveal that warm baths increased participants' sleepiness at bedtime, as well as both slow-wave and stage-4 sleep.
Reduce your reliance on sleep medication.
When you know Daylight Saving Time is about to hit, make a point of toning down any reliance on OTC sleep aids. Using sleep medication on a regular basis can make you reliant on it and can cause rebound insomnia when you become adjusted to its effects or quit cold turkey. And if you do need to turn to medication, try a natural solution before turning to prescription pills.
"Quality, restful sleep is so essential to staying healthy, and we all should make it a priority," says Dr. Elson Haas, MD Founder & Director of Preventive Medical Center of Marin and author of Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine: Integrating Natural, Eastern, and Western Approaches for Optimal Health. "Using sleep aids like melatonin or tryptophan or 5-HTP as precursors to melatonin can help us adapt to our best sleep time."
Keep your room whisper-quiet.
While the sound of the rustling leaves outside or the noise of a city street may be calming to you, they're doing you no favors when it comes to your sleep. The solution? Invest in a white noise machine or app. According to research published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, notoriously-fickle newborns who had white noise machines added to their sleep environment fell asleep much quicker than those who didn't.
Switch to a night shower.
While your morning shower may be refreshing, if you want to combat the effects of Daylight Saving Time, you'd be wise to start cleaning off at night instead. According to a study published in the European Journal of Physiology and Occupational Therapy, study participants who bathed at night fell asleep faster and enjoyed better sleep than those who didn't, and they moved less frequently during sleep, as well.
Don't stress about the transition.
Though the idea that you'll wake up feeling unrested, cranky, and groggy may be enough to make anyone anxious, trying to limit the amount of stress associated with the Daylight Saving Time transition by maintaining consistency in your routine and implementing some new self-care measures will serve you better in the long run. Researchers at Korea University in Seoul found a significant link between stress and a reduction in sleep duration and quality, so try to ease yourself into your new sleep schedule slowly and you'll make the transition much easier.
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