Of all the things that can make you late for work — flat tires, power failures, alien abductions, the list goes on — the most maddening may be Daylight Saving Time (DST). According to a 2010 survey, moving clocks ahead by an hour on the second Sunday in March caused 27 percent of respondents to show up for something at the wrong time.
As well as causing tardiness, DST also steals an hour of sleep from anyone who doesn’t adjust their bedtime accordingly. The good news: Losing a few Z’s isn’t a big deal when you get the right amount of sleep most nights.
Here are five easy tips for getting a good sleep.
1. Stick to a routine
Consistency is key when it comes to sleep. Go to bed at around the same time every night, and you’ll sleep better. An exception: the Sunday night after DST kicks in. Your body clock may not be ready to shut things down an hour earlier than usual, so you may end up sleeping one hour less. The good news: Your body will adjust to the time change naturally.
2. Shelve the screens
The bedroom should be a sanctuary reserved for two activities: sleeping and sex. Ban TV, smartphones and laptops — they’re too stimulating and will wreck the mood for both.
3. Keep it clean
The bedroom, not necessarily the sex. Your bedroom should be clean and clutter-free, so you have a clear mind as you drift off to dreamland — after adjusting your alarm clock, of course.
4. Chill out
A warm bedroom isn’t conducive to sleep. Keep it cooler than the rest of your home — about 15 to 18 degrees Celsius — by closing an extra vent or turning off a baseboard heater. Or keep the whole place cooler overnight and lower your heating bill!
5. Let darkness reign
The human body is programmed to wake when it’s light and sleep when it’s night. Keep your bedroom dark with heavy curtains and cover the LED lights in your electronics to prevent any interruption of your natural sleep cycle.
Adjust across the board
Adjusting the cutoff time for these daily activities can make it easier to fall asleep earlier than usual:
- Drinking coffee, tea and cola. All these beverages contain caffeine, which can wreck your sleep patterns. Try and aim for no caffeine after 3 pm.
- Exercise. Getting active a few hours before bedtime boosts your adrenaline levels, which keeps you awake.
The right amount of sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven and nine hours of sleep a night for optimal health. Get the Z’s you need, and everything gets better: mental sharpness, memory, mood, and self-control. Studies show that healthy sleep habits help the brain form new pathways for learning and remembering information.
And yes, that includes remembering to “spring forward” on Sunday, March 8!