This weekend, we turn the clocks ahead in the United States. If we were smart, we'd skip an hour of work in the middle of the day, as opposed to what we currently do--skip an hour of sleep in the middle of the night.
So I asked Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute in Mebane, North Carolina, for some advice on how to make turning the clocks ahead a little less painful. Here are Oexman's 15 tips for getting through the start of Daylight Savings Time.
1. Bank a few minutes.
Leading up to Daylight Savings, adjust your bedtime a few minutes earlier each night, eventually getting to sleep an hour earlier than usual.
2. Don't use your phone as an alarm clock.
I think most of us do this now, but it could be a mistake. You probably know that you should set limits on technology usage before bedtime, but the mere fact that your phone is nearby makes you more inclined to check it if you can't fall asleep.
3. Avoid blue light.
The blue light emitted from TVs, computers, tablets, and smart phones inhibits the production of melatonin, which we need to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you need a night light or an electric alarm clock, buy a low-blue-light one. There are also blue-light filtering glasses you can wear the last hour or so before bed.
4. Choose the right equipment--and don't share!
Choose the correct mattress and pillow for your body type. Also, don't share blankets and sheets with your partner if you can--it's one of the biggest causes of partner disturbance is stolen covers! Avoid a fight over the blankets by using your own.
5. Sleep in the dark.
Your bedroom should be completely dark. Even a night light or bright alarm clock can inhibit melatonin production, which we need to fall asleep and stay asleep. If your bedroom windows let in a lot of natural light, get blackout curtains or wear an eye mask.
6. Sleep where it's quiet.
Try and eliminate all noise from your bedroom. If this isn't possible, invest in a white- or pink-noise machine.
7. Stick to a bedroom routine.
Participate in the same relaxing activities before heading to bed each night. Helpful exercises include taking a hot bath or reading a book (but always in low light--see below). Keeping a routine will allow your body to adjust to the time change more easily.
8. Get within the four-degree margin.
Optimally, your bedroom should be between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, it depends upon how many covers you pile upon your bed! Crack a window and cool down to fall asleep.
9. Practice deep breathing.
If your body is still wired from the day, you will have a difficult time falling asleep. By practicing deep breathing, you send a signal to your body to that you're trying to relax.
10. Stretch your back.
The most common site for a ruptured disk is the lower back, and most "slipped disks" occur within 30 to 60 minutes after people get out of bed. The best way to avoid this is to stretch your back for five minutes before you even leave your bed.
Bonus tip: Get outdoors.
The whole point of Daylight Savings is to increase the number of evening daylight hours. So get out and enjoy them. Besides, when you're active, it makes it easier to sleep.