It’s just one day a year, but it seems like every March, Daylight Savings Time (DST) sneaks up on us. A symbol of the budding spring season that brings with it an extra hour of daylight, DST also brings an hour less of sleep…
One hour less of slumber may not seem like that big of a deal, but there are a whole host of issues that stem from “spring forward.” Like flying east, our bodies struggle physically with the concept of losing time. Similar to a mini bout of jetlag, DST causes fatigue, stunted productivity, headaches, junk food cravings/lack of appetite, and makes us more accident prone. In fact, studies have shown an increase in car accidents following the first workday after DST.
So how do you get on-top of the downside of DST? Follow along for some easy tips to prepare your body and trick your internal clock so you can avoid the negative effects of DST and fully embrace the upcoming spring season.
Go back before you spring forward
Struggle with sleep deprivation? Get ahead of the change by setting your clock back before going to sleep and try tucking in an hour early on Saturday.
If you are someone who tends to be lights out as soon as you hit the pillow, try acclimating your body to the time change with an incremental change in your bedtime. Starting the Wednesday before DST, get to bed 15 minutes earlier each day leading up to Saturday. By the time the work week hits, you’ll have adjusted your sleep schedule and the time transition will be much easier on your system.
Kiddos should also have their sleeping schedule adjusted accordingly. Try getting them to go to bed an hour earlier Friday and Saturday night so that come Sunday night they are well rested and ready to hit the hay for a good night’s sleep.
Turn off before drifting off
It’s certainly not a new idea, but now more than ever it’s important to limit your screen time at least an hour before climbing into bed. The blue-tinged light of your TV, phone, tablet—even some e-readers—can interfere with your body’s internal clock and affect the quality and duration of your sleep. If you truly need a distraction to get your mind off and nagging tasks, try listening to music, an audio-book, or a podcast as an alternative to visual entertainment.
Watch the mmm before you zzz
Snacks, nightcaps, and that afternoon coffee can all affect how you sleep. To make sure you get to bed early and avoid losing an hour’s rest, try not eating anything within three hours of your scheduled bedtime. This will ensure that your body has digested your meal and leave you less prone to sleep interruption. If you must have a nibble or sip before bed, try to avoid sugary, fatty, caffeinated, or acidic snacks, as these are harder on your digestive system and can cause issues such a delayed digestion and acid reflux. For bedtime snacks, turn to melatonin triggering whole grains, fast-digesting bananas, hunger-satiating eggs, and antioxidant-rich kiwis.
Unwind to avoid feeling behind
Take some me time, whatever that is. Try doing something that relaxes you to unwind before bed instead of scrolling on your phone. Reading, a hot cup of herbal tea, a warm soak in the bath, meditation, and journaling are all great options. One thing that often keeps us up at night is worrying about the next day. Instead of tossing and turning, write a to-do list before bed to get your worries off your mind and on paper.
Work your workout schedule around the time change
Depending on the activity you choose, exercise can pump you up or help you gear down. Heart pumping cardio might best be left for morning sweat sessions while weightlifting should be saved for the afternoon, since muscle strength peaks mid-day and you are bound to be more alert. Yoga, a long walk, and any other low-intensity sustained state (LISS) activity is perfect to try a few hours before bed as long as it is relaxing.
Take a break or work from home
With a rise in accidents and general wakefulness the first few mornings following DST, it might be a good idea to start the workday from home or start your commute post-rush-hour. You can’t control other people’s driving, but you can try to avoid accidents by staying off the roads and taking it easy.
Practice sleep hygiene
Treat sleep like any other routine task you do to better maintain your physical and mental health. Light, sound, and temperature all affect the quality of your sleep nightly—not just around DST. Invest in bedding that keeps you warm and comfortable, but not overheated. Turn the thermostat down (or up) so that it remains between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. A quiet, cool, dark bedroom is the perfect combo for a great night’s rest, so try an eye mask, earplugs, blackout curtains, or anything else that will help you achieve that perfect equilibrium
Being away from home can be rough, no matter what day of the year. Luckily, your sleep at InTown Suites doesn’t have to be. With 189 extended stay locations in 22 states, there’s a comfy place to catch some Zs, no matter where you go.