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Tips for a Smoother Daylight Savings Time


It’s that time again – Daylight Savings!  In March, we Spring forward – setting clocks one hour ahead and guaranteeing more afternoon and evening sunshine.  This change is happening this Sunday, March 10th, 2024 at 2 am and can disrupt both sleep quantity and quality.  So let’s review some strategies to help this time change go more smoothly.  

Please note: These tips are not a substitute for speaking with your physician, therapist, or sleep specialist but offer general guidelines and actionable steps to improve your sleep.

 

Make gradual adjustments

Starting today, change your bedtime, wake time, and meal times to 10-20 minutes earlier than your typical schedule.  If you usually wake up at 8 am, try getting up at 7:45 am on Tuesday, 7:30 am on Wednesday, and so on until you are waking up at 7 am.  This allows you time to adjust to the hour time change gradually and with fewer negative consequences.  Same goes for your bedtime and meal times! As we’ve learned in previous blog posts, meal times also impact your circadian rhythms.  How much time to adjust your schedule is up to you – some people do better with smaller increments and some people are fine with larger ones.


Prioritize sleep this week

This week is an excellent time to refresh your memory on sleep hygiene (see: https://www.drpamnyc.com/post/healthy-habits-for-better-sleep) and focus on getting good sleep.  The better rested you are by Sunday, the easier the time change will be.  Using relaxation strategies such as autogenic training, yoga nidra, and relaxing imagery can also be helpful this week since you’ll be gradually moving up your bedtime.  I love using Insight Timer or the Calm App and trying new sleep meditations.  These meditations can also be helpful if you wake up in the middle of the night.


Change your clocks Saturday evening

Most of our devices automatically adjust the time, but don’t forget to change your stove, microwave, and digital clocks.  Doing so on Saturday night can help you start Sunday on the right foot (and at the right time!).


Prioritize daylight exposure – especially in the morning!

This is important year-round, but extra important after a time change.  Get outside for a morning walk, use your light therapy box, or drink your morning beverage in front of a sunny window.


Eat a healthy diet

This is also a good week to focus on incorporating healthy foods into your diet, limiting alcohol, and timing your meals and caffeine intake.  Try not to eat heavy or spicy meals too close to bedtime and try your best to say “no” to caffeine 8-12 hours before bedtime.


No naps!

If you must nap, plan for less than 30 minutes as this will reduce grogginess and have the least amount of impact on your nighttime sleep.


Good luck and enjoy the extra sunshine next week!

 


 

These tips are not a replacement for assessment and treatment by a sleep specialist, physician, and/or therapist.


For more support and guidance, book a consultation with me to get started with a specialized treatment for insomnia called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I).

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