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Our “One Good Thing” series continues with some tips for surviving daylight savings time.  For those who enjoy podcasts, we’ve included links to a few podcasts from National Public Radio (NPR) focusing on how to reset after the time change, take a refreshing nap and bust some myths about sleep and sleep deprivation.

Tips for Surviving Daylight Savings Time

The “Spring Forward” time change each year is difficult for a lot of folks.  We posted a blog about circadian rhythms a couple of years ago.  It’s pretty informative.  Here are some of the highlights:

Humans and other mammals are guided by circadian rhythms, which are largely dependent on light exposure. In order to reset each day, they must be synchronized with natural light-darkness cycles in order to ensure healthy, high-quality sleep.

The transition between Daylight Savings Time and Standard Time means darker mornings and more evening light. This can essentially “delay” your sleep-wake cycle, making you feel tired in the morning and alert in the evening. Circadian misalignment can contribute to sleep loss, as well as “sleep debt,” which refers to the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.

Humans are most vulnerable to sleep deprivation in early March, as they transition from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time. One study found that the average person receives 40 minutes less sleep on the Monday after “Springing Forward” compared to other nights of the year.

Here are some tips:

  • Practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to practices that can influence sleep for better or worse. In order to ease the transition of the time change, you should refrain from consuming alcohol before bed. While drinking can cause you to feel sleepy initially, alcohol also causes sleep disruptions and leads to poor sleep quality. Heavy dinners and snacks before bedtime can also negatively affect how well you sleep that night.
  • Establish a consistent sleep routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day – including the weekends – is a healthy sleep hygiene practice that can also prepare you for time changes. Make sure you get at least seven hours of sleep each night before and after transitioning to or from Daylight Savings Time.
  • Spend time outdoors, particularly early in the day. Since natural light is a driving force behind our circadian rhythms, exposure to sunlight can alleviate feelings of tiredness during the day that often accompany time changes.
  • Nap in moderation. People who experience sleep debt as a result of Daylight Savings Time may find some relief by taking short naps during the day. Naps that are 20 minutes in length are ideal; otherwise, you may wake up feeling groggy.

You can read the entire blog post here.

NPR’s Life Kit recently put out three podcasts that we really liked and wanted to pass on.