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Daylight Sleepy Time: How to Manage the Upcoming Time Change

Health and Wellness, Mind

healthy sleepLove it or hate it, the switch between Daylight Savings Time and Standard Time means we have to face a disruption to our normal sleep patterns. Your body's natural 24-hour sleep cycle-called your circadian rhythm-is set by sunlight. Resetting your clock doesn't mean your body is ready for a reset too.

But don't despair! The spring time change, which falls on March 13 this year, doesn't have to disrupt your sleep. You can start a plan today to make the transition easier on your body.

A Smooth Sleep Transition

The starting place for making a smooth transition lies in healthy sleep habits. You can start making good sleep choices right away and throughout the year. Healthy sleep is an important pillar of a healthy lifestyle year-round. "Healthy sleep promotes physical and mental well-being and boosts our daytime performance," says Dr. Kam Atwal, a sleep medicine specialist at the Adventist Health Medical Group Portland Lung Clinic.

Dr. Kamaljit AtwalTo establish healthy sleep, Dr. Atwal recommends:

  • Creating a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Sleeping enough every night-that means seven to nine hours for most adults.
  • Incorporating healthy eating and exercise during the day.
  • Having a healthy bedtime routine, which includes avoiding alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and large meals for several hours before bedtime.

Heading into a time change with good sleep habits will make the transition easier. Closer to the time change-about four to six days ahead-Dr. Atwal recommends adjusting your sleep schedule a little each day. "Your internal body clock will have an easier time adjusting to the one-hour change over a few days," Dr. Atwal advises.

After the Time Change

Dr. Atwal also offers some tips for coping with any problems after the time change:

  • Spend time in outdoor light in the morning to help you feel alert and reset your natural internal clock.
  • Fight daytime sleepiness with a little caffeine (up to 2 cups of coffee) or exercise to stimulate alertness.
  • Take short naps of less than 30 minutes before 3 p.m.
  • Use a 1 or 3 milligram dose of melatonin 60 to 90 minutes before bedtime to help cue your body to sleep.

While some find the time change difficult, with a little planning you can make sure you sail through the change with little impact on your daily-and nightly-life.

Listen to our sleep podcast with Dr. Atwal.

How Sleep Disorders Affect Your Heart Infographic

Sleep problems can be triggered by time change but there are also many sleep disorders that can affect our sleep health. Learn more about how sleep disorders may affect your heart health in the infographic below.

Sleep Disorders Infographic