SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Daylight Saving Time (DST) is just around the corner, meaning we will all be “springing ahead” one hour on Sunday, March 12 at 2 a.m. For many who would go to sleep at their normal time, this would mean losing an hour of blissful rest going into the next day.
According to a 2019 study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, more than half of Americans (55%) report feeling tired after the time change. But losing an hour of sleep could be doing more than just making Americans feel a little more tired in the days after springing forward.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) said studies have shown Americans show difficulty with memory and focus or making decisions. The immediate lack of sleep can also affect mood, making people more irritated. Perhaps more alarming, the AARP warns changing the clocks forward takes a toll on your heart, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Thankfully, the Sleep Foundation has a few tips on how we can switch make the switch into Daylight Saving Time a little easier on ourselves.
Adjust slowly ahead of time
Springing forward and falling back happens about the same time every year, so it’s easy to plan for. The Sleep Foundation says gradually adjusting your schedule in the week leading into the time change can help make the shift a little less jarring. Heading into this weekend, try going to bed about 15-20 minutes earlier each day so your sleep schedule is well adjusted for when time changes.
Be well rested before the time change
As pointed out, the time change can have some significant impacts on health. The Sleep Foundation says building a “sleep bank” to better cope with the switch can help mitigate some of the side effects of the time change. Build your sleep bank by getting quality sleep and much of it. An added bonus is having a good quality night’s sleep built up will help you stay awake throughout the day anyway.
Use relaxation techniques and take a nap
Calming your mind and body can make it easier to smoothly transition into sleep, says the Sleep Foundation. Mindful meditation or deep breathing techniques in the week leading into DST can help adjust to an earlier bedtime. If you’re still struggling after the time change, don’t be afraid to take a quick nap.
“Keeping a nap under 30 minutes can boost your alertness while reducing grogginess after waking up,” the Sleep Foundation said.
Improve sleep hygiene
Sleep Foundation says keeping a set sleep schedule, using a routine to get ready for bed and avoiding things like alcohol and caffeine at night can better healthy sleep habits and improve your sleep, ultimately making it easier to deal with the time change. It’s also recommended to go “device-free” for at least 30 minutes before bed and making your bedroom a great place to sleep by removing unwanted noises and light.
Eat a healthy diet
According to Sleep Foundation, having a proper nutritional diet can help improve sleep. It is also recommended not to avoid eating heavy or spicy foods and to eat at least a few hours before bed for a good night’s rest.
“Although no single diet has been proven to be the best for sleep, balanced diets made up of lots of fruits and vegetables tend to provide the nutrients the body needs and have been associated with better sleep,” recommends Sleep Foundation.
Remember, the spring forward to Daylight Saving Time happens on Sunday, March 12 so there is still time to prepare for a less jarring jump into spring.