An earlier daylight-saving time is close upon us. Theoretically, the spring-forward is designed to save energy costs and promote safety. What is for sure is an extra hour to enjoy life outside, an extra hour to stay up late, and an hour less to sleep.
An expert provides tips for managing our circadian rhythms, the biological waves that regulate our sleep.
Dr. Maha Alattar, assistant professor of neurology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, says the time change affords an opportunity to learn about, and practice, sound sleep habits. “They can be for every day, not just twice a year.”
Among Alattar’s suggestions:
* Most importantly, don’t resort to medications just to adjust to daylight-saving time. “This is a transitory period. Most people adjust within a few days.”
* Wake up at your regular time, according to the clock. Even though 6 a.m. will be 7 a.m., stay on your schedule.
* Get a dose of sunshine in the morning to quickly reset circadian rhythms. Sunlight is most the powerful regulator.
* Don’t drink caffeine after 10 a.m. or lunchtime.
* Don’t take a nap; work through the sluggishness until bedtime.
* Avoid a heavy meal three hours before bed.
* End your exercise routine at least three to four hours before bedtime.
* Take a warm shower or bath before bed.
Many of these techniques hold true for kids – basically, increase outdoor activities during the day and curtail outside play and inside activities, including computer work, close to bedtime.
* Let kids eat breakfast outside; if it’s too cold, set them beside a window.
* End playtime a couple of hours before bedtime.
* Turn off the computer two hours before bed, and the TV one hour before bed.
* Limit liquids beginning three hours before bedtime so they don’t have to wake up to go to the bathroom.
* Start dimming the lights and other stimuli in the house well before bedtime.