While many of you are looking forward to gaining an hour of sleep this weekend, your body may not be so excited about it, as its internal rhythm will want to take about a week or so to adjust to the confusion of the time change. The result of this confusion may be irritability, difficulty falling asleep, or waking up too early and can leave you feeling tired, groggy, and moody—especially if you’re not getting enough sleep to begin with.
I normally suggest that people start getting their sleep schedule regulated about two weeks before Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends—by getting to sleep about 30 minutes earlier—you can benefit from following these simple tips right now to ensure that you smoothly adjust to the time change and are able to stay energized and happy:
1. Always practice good sleep hygiene.
Make sure you continue to go to bed and wake up at the same time every night and day, respectively. If you are tired during the day, you can nap but ensure that it is no more than 20 minutes long. If you are someone whose sleep is negatively affected by naps, do not nap, but take 10 minutes during your day to listen to a guided meditation while sitting quietly. Create a quiet, dark, and peaceful environment in your bedroom without electronics or work-related projects. Keep the temperature in your bedroom cool between 60 and 75 degrees. Getting high-quality sleep will help your body adjust as quickly as possible.
2. Aim to exercise during the day, not in the evening.
Rigorous exercise during the day will help you feel tired by evening and ready to curl up in bed for some shut-eye. Plan on 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day (gentle enough that you can have a conversation while doing it), which may include walking, biking, swimming and so forth and/or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (you cannot have a conversation) in total for the week.
3. Make sure you get some sunlight exposure.
To ensure your melatonin levels are regulated—which will help your body’s rhythm adjust—you want to make sure you are exposed to sunlight during the day. Go for a walk, even for 10 minutes, in a garden or park. As I mentioned, it’s also a good idea to avoid electronics, especially your smartphone, for at least an hour before bed as the blue light will offset your melatonin levels. If necessary, get yourself a light therapy box to use at least during the initial week after the time change—if not for the duration of the fall and winter.
4. Meal prep.
When your sleep is off, your appetite may increase, and you can crave sugar-filled comfort foods, which will often make you feel worse. Prepare your meals ahead of time, and make sure they’re loaded with antioxidants, healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This means a ton of dark leafy greens, other vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, grass-fed beef, fish, avocado, and coconut oil. Make sure that you prepare snacks for yourself to take care of the munchies when they arise. Make sure that you also stay hydrated, so bring your big jug of water with you wherever you go. These four tips will give your body the extra TLC it needs to take on the time change without a hitch.