Ah, spring. The plants are blooming, the birds are singing, and if you’re anything like me, a renewed sense of joy and zest for life has come over you because it’s warm and sunny outside once again. (Not saying that I have seasonal depression, but also…winter can be a little depressing!)
As much as I love the sun though, I am always slightly saddened to be losing an hour of sleep come Daylight Saving Time. If you live in a country that practices Daylight Saving, you’re likely familiar with the concept of “springing forward” — setting clocks an hour ahead in the spring to have more daylight in the summer evenings.
Daylight Saving Time has its controversies (for example, Arizona doesn’t follow it, despite most of the continental U.S. doing so), but whether you agree or disagree, it’s important to be ready to adjust your sleep schedule when it comes. Here are some tips to help you stay well rested as we spring forward.
6 Easy Ways to Help You Adjust to Daylight Saving Time
Start Adjusting Early
If the prospect of losing an hour of sleep is stressing you out, fear not. Like most other things in life, you can combat the effects of springing forward with early preparation! And if you’re a chronic procrastinator and the thought of having to prepare for something is even more stressful than the thought of losing sleep, stay with me. It’s a very easy process.
To get your body ready for the time change, simply start going to bed a little earlier every night over a set period. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night before Daylight Saving Time begins and you’ll already be adjusted by the time it comes.
For example, if you normally go to sleep at 11:00pm, go to bed at 10:45pm a week or so before the time changes. Then after a day or two, go to sleep at 10:30pm, then 10:15pm, and then 10:00pm, and when Daylight Saving Time begins, you can go back to bedtime at 11:00pm and be well-adjusted for the “new” 11:00pm.
Don’t Hit Snooze
As tempting as it may be to sleep in a little after losing an hour of sleep, experts say it’s better to stick to your usual routine. Getting up at your usual time will help your body adjust to the new time and get your circadian rhythm back on track.
If you do find yourself feeling overly tired the day after the time change, a short nap should be okay, as long as it isn’t too close to bedtime. Try to keep it around 30 minutes to prevent making yourself from feeling even groggier. (And take a look at my must-have items for the perfect nap.)
Work With Your Circadian Rhythm
Circadian rhythm is the 24-hour cycle that dictates when we wake and fall asleep. Light exposure is one of the main cues our bodies use to set the circadian rhythm and when the time changes, our circadian rhythm can be thrown off because of the difference in light exposure. It’s the same reason you might find yourself ready to go to bed early in the evening during the winter months — the darkness is a cue to your body to get sleepy.
To adjust to losing an hour of sleep when we spring forward, experts recommend getting light exposure early in the morning to signal to your body that it’s time to wake up. You could get that light exposure by taking a quick walk or even just opening your blinds to let sunlight in while you get ready in the morning. If that doesn’t work for you, you could also consider a sunlight alarm clock, which works with your circadian rhythm by using light to gradually wake you up.
Consider the Philips Wake-up Light Alarm Clock, which is our Editor’s Pick for the best sunlight alarm clock, due to its calming sound effects, different light intensities and colors, and single-touch snooze feature. Or maybe the Casper Glow light, which allows you to set a wake-up time through an app. This minimalistic light can also be controlled by flipping it, twisting it, and other motion controls, thanks to the high-tech sensing from an accelerometer and gyroscope.
Or, if later sunsets are preventing you from feeling sleepy in the evening, you could try using a sleep mask or blackout curtains to keep your bedroom super dark when it’s time to go to sleep. That might be especially helpful if you go to sleep quite early or for young children with early bedtimes.
One of my favorite sleep masks is the Casper Snoozewear sleep mask, which has a soft, foamy mask and a wide, stretchy band. Another great mask I’ve tried is the Ostrichpillow Eye Mask, which is molded to allow space so that the mask isn’t placing uncomfortable pressure on your facial features. Both of these masks block out light well without sacrificing comfort.
And if you decide to go the blackout curtains route, our top pick is the NICETOWN Grommet Top Blackout Curtains. These curtains look stylish, because they use the same fabric on both sides, have grommet tops, and are available in a variety of colors. They’re made of a triple-woven fabric that blocks out 99% of light.
Take Advantage of the Longer Hours of Sun
If you aren’t feeling sleepy enough in the evenings after the time change, due to the sun setting later, exercise and activity could help to tire you out. Take advantage of those longer hours of light to get outside for a run or walk, or to practice your favorite exercise routine or sport. Some physical activity in the late afternoon or early evening could help you feel more tired once bedtime rolls around.
Keep Your Schedule Light While Adjusting
It might not always be possible, but try to keep your schedule lighter the days following the time change. Trying to squeeze too much into a day when you’re feeling exhausted may not have the best outcome, particularly if you know you’re extra sensitive to sleep deprivation. That’s not to say that you can’t follow your normal work or school schedule, but it might be better to not schedule too many social activities or appointments right when Daylight Saving Time begins.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
One of the best ways to help yourself adjust to time change is to practice good sleep hygiene in the first place. Plus, good sleep habits will serve you long past springing forward.
Try to limit screen time close to bed, as well as limiting alcohol and caffeine (no espresso martinis!) Create a serene sleep environment, perhaps with aromatherapy diffusers or white noise machines, to induce a sense of relaxation and calm before bed. And keep your bedroom serene by not working or doing homework from your bed, if you can.
You can also try developing a bedtime routine. Taking a hot bath or shower, reading a book, practicing yoga or meditation, or even following your nighttime skincare routine can help you prepare your mind and body for sleep and leave the day behind.
I hope these tips will help you maintain your sleep schedule and quality through the time change. And as much as Daylight Saving Time can be annoying and difficult to adjust to, at least it’s not getting dark at 4:00pm anymore!