Daylight saving time is fast approaching. At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 10, we’ll have to turn the clocks forward an hour. It can cause a quite shock to our system — some studies say daylight saving time increases risks of heart attacks, car accidents and workplace injuries, according to AARP.
Some parts of the U.S. have discontinued the practice of following daylight saving time, including Hawaii and Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Nation). It’s also not observed in the U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Island, the US Minor Outlying Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
But if you live in one of the states that still follows daylight saving time, you can lessen the effects by planning ahead.
Here are some steps to do just that:
1. Start getting to bed earlier, now
This is the easiest way to catch up on sleep before the clocks move forward. Not able to do this? Try making bedtime earlier in 15-30 minutes increments, gradually working up to an hour earlier.
Dr. Marcella Frank, a board-certified sleep physician at the Deborah Heart and Lung Center, suggests keeping the lights dim for a few hours before your ideal bedtime.
“That will give your brain time to produce melatonin,” Frank explained. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles.
Also, decrease any sensory stimulation as bedtime approaches, Frank said. Shutting off electronic devices is a good start.
“And if you’re watching or reading something stimulating, it will be harder to you to fall asleep,” she added.
Creating a quiet, calm time before bed also includes avoiding any stressful conversations that might make it hard to go to sleep.
2. Sleep in
If you can, sleep in the Sunday after daylight saving time.
If you’re worried that still won’t be enough to ward off Monday morning grogginess, take a nap in the early to mid-afternoon on Sunday. But be careful: Napping too close to your bedtime can leave you wide awake at night.
3. Plan extra time to prepare for the day
Allow extra time in the morning after daylight saving time to get ready for school, work, appointments or wherever you have to be to reduce stress and help you feel in control, even if you’re a bit groggy.
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4. Avoid the extra java.
Chugging more coffee might seem like a logical step to feel more awake in the morning, but excess caffeine can cause anxiety and muscle tension — which will definitely make you feel worse.
5. Get some exercise
Go for a brisk walk, rollerblade, jog, bike — anything that gets your blood pumping. Exercising during the day will likely help you get to sleep earlier at night and sleep more soundly, making it easier to get up earlier the next morning.
6. Try a sleep aid
If all else fails, try taking low-dose melatonin about an hour before your desired bedtime, says Frank. While it’s preferable to try to create an environment that helps your body produce melatonin naturally, you can take a low dose if needed, she advises.
But make sure to talk to your doctor before taking any type of medication.
It also might help not to view daylight saving time as a huge problem, since it’s really not, Frank says.
“Losing an hour of sleep isn’t a big deal, it happens all the time,” she says. “That hour can easily be made up. The bigger problem is that we live in a sleep-deprived society in general. People should be getting seven and half hours to eight hours of sleep, but most get only six.”
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