First, some good news: Spring is on the horizon and we’ll soon be enjoying an extra hour of daylight. The bad news? Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 11, which means we’ll be “springing forward” and losing an hour of sleep.
But not to worry — experts have shared with us ways we can make the time change easier on our bodies, so that we don’t have to sacrifice precious ZZZs. Here’s what you can start doing now to get ready:
1. Start adjusting your bedtime now.
In order to adjust to daylight saving time, start gradually shifting your sleep schedule by 15 minutes each day for the four days prior, advised Sara Nowakowski, PhD, MS, and a sleep expert and clinical psychologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
For example, if your normal sleep schedule is 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., adjust to 9:45 p.m. to 5:45 a.m. on the first night; 9:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. on the second night; 9:15 p.m. to 5:15 a.m. on the third night, and then, on daylight saving, 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., she suggested. Your body won’t experience the change as harshly if you introduce it in smaller increments.
2. Expose yourself to sunlight upon waking up.
Crack open those blinds when you wake up and let the sunshine spill in to your bedroom! Or better yet, go for a walk or a jog. As you’re adjusting to daylight saving time by waking up 15 minutes earlier each morning, expose yourself to outside light as soon as you can, suggested Nathaniel Watson, SleepScore Labs scientific advisory board member, MD, MS, and former President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Sunlight will help reset your internal rhythms and sync you up with your earlier bedtime, he explained. You should also avoid bright light in the evenings for the same reason, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
3. Dim your electronics.
Artificial lights can suppress melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone, explained Nowakowski. Dim screen light from electronics, like your phone or tablets, and use features such as the iOS night shift mode to minimize blue light in the evening. Power down digital devices at least one hour before bedtime, she advised.
4. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed.
“We can’t force sleep,” Nowakowski said. So, if daylight saving time is causing sleep disruptions, remember it’s a temporary inconvenience. (In fact, the National Sleep Foundation said people lose 40 minutes of sleep on average during daylight saving time.)
If you’re struggling to fall asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy, she suggested. Try listening to music, reading, or meditating, and then return to bed.
5. Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
Your bedroom should be like a cave: Cool and dark. Research shows that 65 degrees is an ideal temperature to sleep in, according to the National Sleep Foundation. During the day, your body temperature rises and it falls at nighttime. If the air in your bedroom is too hot at night, it can interfere with your body’s natural dip and make you restless.
6. Brew some banana tea.
Need help adjusting to an early bedtime? Try brewing your bedtime tea with a banana peel. Bananas are rich in magnesium, and the peels are especially loaded with the mineral that promotes relaxation, according to sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD. He recommended making a tea with a clean banana peel by cutting off the stem and tip. Then he boils half of the peel in water for a few minutes and adds some honey.
Here are some other great foods to eat for better sleep — along with some foods that are known sleep disruptors.
7. Don’t sleep in late on Sunday morning.
It might be tempting, but sleeping in late on Sunday after daylight saving time starts can make it tougher to fall asleep on Sunday night, says Chris Bratner, a certified sleep science coach and founder of SleepZoo. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule, so you don’t throw your body out of whack.
These seven tips should help ease the pain of losing an hour of sleep. Of course, if all else fails, you can always pack your bags and move to Arizona or Hawaii! Those two states snub daylight saving time.