Have you been falling asleep at your desk lately? If so, you might want to consider going to bed early this weekend — because you'll potentially be losing an hour of sleep otherwise.
This Sunday (March 10), marks the beginning of daylight saving time in the United States. And while some see this annual springing forward of the clocks as a welcome prelude to warmer weather, others are wondering how they’re going to wake up for work on Monday morning.
Dr. Aparajitha Verma, a neurologist with the Sleep Disorders Center at the Methodist Neurological Center in Houston, said nearly 70 million Americans are affected by sleep problems that can lead to other health issues. Daylight saving time can prove to be particularly problematic for these people, Verma said. She recommends getting adequate rest before the time change goes into effect.
“One way to do that is to start changing your hours before the time change,” said Verma. “Get up an hour earlier. Retire an hour earlier.”
Verma said that those whose circadian rhythms — or internal clocks — are out of sync with the day-night cycle can have a hard time falling asleep. She recommends getting your internal clock in tune with your unique schedule.
She also recommends the following tips for making the daylight saving transition a little smoother:
- Sleep in a quiet and dark environment and set the thermostat at a slightly cooler temperature.
- Don’t allow pets in the bed.
- No reading, eating or watching TV in bed.
- Don’t watch the clock.
- Set a “wind down” time prior to going to bed.
- Don’t take over-the-counter sleep aids, as these can disrupt sleep stages.
- Try drinking warm teas or milk to increase your body temperature, which helps induce and sustain sleep.
- Exercise, but not within two hours of going to sleep.