When it’s time to change your clocks, the saying goes, “Spring forward, fall back!” It sounds simple enough. In the fall, when Daylight Savings Time ends, we set our clocks back one hour. In the spring, when Daylight Savings time begins, we move our clocks forward one hour. Though, what does all this switching up of the times do to our sleep? Oh, the fall sounds nice since we actually gain an extra hour of sleep. But, what happens in the spring when Daylight Savings Time begins, and we jump ahead one hour losing that precious 60 minutes, that’s 3,600 seconds of precious sleep time? Add a new baby, a child or two, or even a pet into this drowsiness, and suddenly those hands on the clock are starting a pillow fight with your bedtime rituals. When Daylight Savings Time arrives, be prepared to not only set your clock back an hour but to recharge your body’s own sleep clock to adjust with the time change with these helpful sleeping tips.
Do not disturb sleep hours
Most things worth doing require planning, including getting quality sleep. It doesn’t usually just happen. Plan for the lost hour by starting a week ahead of time and slowly moving your bedtime up by 15 minutes each night. Even though your sleep time is being pushed up an hour, make sure you are still getting enough sleep. Start by doing some simple math to set your bedtime by calculating backwards from the time you need to wake up. Make getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night a priority. Like putting up a Do Not Disturb sign on your hotel door, treat these hours as something that cannot be messed with.
Set the tone for sleep
Even though you set aside a bedtime and waking time that meets your body’s sleep requirements, this doesn’t mean that the second your head hits the pillow you are immediately fast asleep. Start by setting the tone for quality sleep time by following a relaxing ritual at bedtime, such as taking a warm bath, listening to relaxing music, or reading a book. Make sure the room is dark, that the temperature is cool, and it is quiet. If it helps you, turn on an air filter or fan for white noise or use black-out, light-reducing curtains to block out lights.
A good night’s rest starts in the kitchen
Don’t eat a heavy meal just before bedtime and expect to settle in for a full night’s rest. Don’t let that midnight snack come back to haunt your sleep time. Digesting food requires energy which may keep you awake or wake you in the middle of the night. Make sure your final meal of the day or night-time snack is finished two or three hours before you call it a night. Also, be careful not to drink too much caffeine or alcohol before bed. Both caffeine and alcohol have a tendency to disrupt sleep. Additionally, while you may think it’s relaxing to have one last cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke before bed, it actually stimulates you and makes it difficult to sleep well.
Mattresses and pillow fights
Use Daylight Savings Time as a chance to re-evaluate your mattress and pillow. Since you will be stretched out on your mattress with your head resting on a pillow for the next 7 to 8 hours, it only makes sense that these furnishings are taken seriously as much more than mere pleasant décor. When your mattress begins to wear out, it may start to sag and fail to provide you with the proper comfort and support. If your mattress is older than seven years, it’s time to start looking for a new one. Likewise, pillows wear out and fail to properly support your neck and back. If you start waking up with neck or headaches, take a good look at replacing your pillow.
Waking hours lead to sleep
The way you spend your day can have a major impact on how well you sleep at night. Staying active, getting plenty of daytime light, or even taking a short 20-minute nap during the day may contribute to better night-time sleeping. Just make sure your workouts or short nap ends at least a couple hours before bedtime.
Sleep like a baby
The time change is often especially rough if you have a baby or young children living with you. The good news is that the same sleep-aid steps that work for you will probably work for them as well. It will just require some effort and attention on your part to make sure their trouble with adjusting to the time change doesn’t keep you up at night as well.
Take it slow – Start about a week or so ahead of Daylight Savings time, and begin to slowly adjusting your child’s napping and sleeping times by 10 or 15 minute increments each day leading up to the time change.
Routine – Establish bedtime rituals that are the same every night. Start to wind down after dinner leading up to a relaxing time for bed. Your night-time ritual may mean an evening bath, snuggle time, or even a bedtime story. Whatever it is, keep it consistent as possible every night.
Darken the room – Depending on what time your child goes to bed, a time change can throw off how much light comes into the room, since the sun may still be up. Install black-out, room-darkening shades if streetlights or such become a problem.
Stay cool – Cooler temps at night help the body want to sleep or to snuggle up in a blanket. For safety, use sleep sacks for infants.
Relax and be patient – No matter how pleasant and relaxing you make the environment and bedtime ritual, some kids just won’t stay down for the night. Time changes exacerbate the issue, and since you may be feeling the stress from lack of sleep yourself, it’s more difficult to deal with it. Try to remember that their little bodies are trying to get into their own individual circadian rhythm, and this often requires patient intervention on the part of the parent to make changes to your child’s routine, daytime activities, or to the physical environment to help them sleep.
Daylight savings isn’t easy. Loosing 60 whole precious minutes of sleep is a sacrifice I am willing to make, because soon enough that warm sunshine and beautiful flowers will be here! So, don’t forget to “spring forward” this Sunday March 11th!