Get ready! Daylight Saving Time starts this weekend. So, not only do we start off sleep-deprived, but we actually lose another hour of sleep. Your body is not ready for the time change. The Centers for Disease Control has a guideline for the number of hours of sleep we all need each night, but I don’t personally know anyone who is successful in getting that amount of sleep. And yet sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. Lack of quality sleep has been linked to obesity and depression. It’s also easier to bounce back from all the little things that go wrong every day when we start the day refreshed.
Is your room dark enough?
Like most Americans, I start each day feeling groggy and wooly-brained. My brain churned for a while before I fell asleep, and, while I don’t have a sleep tracker, I know that my sleep was not as beneficial as it could be. A darkened room and turning screens off early are effective, but just to a certain extent.
Get ready for jet lag without going anywhere
Changing our clocks for Daylight Saving Time is like traveling to a different time zone. So we’re going to feel the effects of jet lag to some degree. We’re all going east one time zone this weekend. So, according to Dr. Innessa Donskoy, sleep specialist at Advocate Children’s Hospital, we can prepare our bodies for that time change as if we were traveling. (It may be a little late now, but remember this for the fall.)
Dr. Donskoy says that to mitigate the physical effects of the time change, we should expose ourselves to light a few minutes earlier each day. Starting tomorrow, wake up fifteen minutes earlier and turn your light on. Actually open your eyes to the blinding glare and just start moving on with your day. This will allow your body to get ready for the time change.
And plan now to do something useful with those extra few minutes you’ll get the next few days. Get in a few more minutes of exercise. If the weather allows, take your dog for an extra-long walk. Write a chapter in that book you’re working on. Or read a chapter! You can log an entry in your journal. Whatever you choose to do, do it! Get your body ready for the time change. Even if you can’t build up to the time change, get up earlier tomorrow. Or, if it’s too late to get ready for this spring, be kind to yourself. Take your dog for a walk anyway.