When we spring forward to daylight savings time on March 10, we lose an hour of sleep. Most of us feel the effect for just a few days afterward. But for others, lack of sleep is a chronic problem worsened by the time transition.
Alexander Gelfer, M.D, board-certified sleep specialist and medical director of the Sleep Care Centers at Kenmore Mercy and Sisters of Charity St. Joseph Campus, shared some easy-to-follow methods for coping with the transition to one less hour of sleep.
“Most adults are already get less than the recommended seven to nine hours of nightly sleep needed to be fully alert the next day,” said Dr. Gelfer.
1. Gradually Transition Into the Time Change
At least two days prior to the time change, go to bed and put your children to bed 15 minutes early. Also set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier than you usually wake up. This makes it easier for your body to adjust to the new schedule.
2. Get Some Exercise During the Day
Even moderate exercise, such as walking, can help you sleep better. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three times a week or more. But avoid exercise within three hours of bedtime.
3. Avoid Stimulating Substances
Alcohol and caffeine can interfere with sleep habits. Instead, relax with a soothing, warm bath and curl up with a book before bed.
4. Eat Light at Night
Indigestion from spicy and fatty food or having too much food on your stomach can cause insomnia.
5. Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
The relaxing mixture of darkness and quiet is key to a good night’s sleep. Whether you try sleep shades, ear plugs, a white-noise machine, or all three, there are plenty of tools available to help block out stimulation and bring on slumber.
Dr. Gelfer adds, “Don’t forget the importance of comfort in the equation. Invest in a good mattress and pillow; you’ll be repaid in sweet dreams.”