While many of us delight in the longer days that come with daylight saving time, it can impact one’s sleeping schedule in the days that follow. Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, and even a one-hour change can make a noticeable difference.
When we sleep our bodies repair cells, make memories, and process the day's events. Studies have even shown that sleep is critical to maintain a healthy body weight and helps with efforts to lose weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep. One study found that nearly a third of Americans get less than six hours of sleep a night. That’s far less than needed and can negatively impact your mood and ability to learn and memorize new things.
If you are struggling to adjust following the time change, follow these tips for more and better-quality sleep:
- Let there be light – Get outside for at least 30 minutes a day. Sunlight helps your body set biological rhythms that promote alertness, while darkness helps you rest and sleep. Even exposure to light on a cloudy day is better than staying indoors.
- Establish a routine – Create a calming nighttime routine and avoid caffeine, chocolate, and nicotine five hours before sleep.
- Get moving - Even 10 minutes of walking helps your body and improves sleep. Finish your exercise routine at least three hours before sleep.
- Prep your space - Create an environment that promotes sleep - dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable.
- Protect your space - Use your sleep space only for relaxing and sleep, don’t watch TV or work in your bedroom.
- Watch what you eat and drink - Avoid heavy and spicy meals and limit liquids, including alcohol, a few hours before bedtime.
- Listen to your body - If you start feeling drowsy, that’s your cue to go to bed. If you don’t listen to your body, you may miss your sleep window.
Find more tips from the CDC and additional information about the connection between good sleep and good health at www.cdc.gov/sleep.
Angie Kalousek Ebrahimi is the senior director of Lifestyle Medicine -- including the Wellvolution platform -- at Blue Shield of California. Learn more about Wellvolution's lifestyle programs, like Headspace and Ginger, that can help you fall asleep and sleep more deeply at Wellvolution.com.