Losing an hour of sleep each spring is the price we all pay for more sunshine, warmer weather, and the anticipation of the upcoming summer. You might be experiencing a bout of sleepiness, dark circles under your eyes, and a crabby demeanor, and we don’t blame you – weekends are short enough as it is! If you’re still struggling to catch up after losing a precious hour of sleep this weekend, we’ve got a few tips that should help you make it through the week.
Take a Nap
Typically, we recommend only napping when absolutely necessary to avoid messing with your regular sleep schedule. However, if the time change over the weekend still has you feeling tired, go ahead and nap, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends that you keep it to 20-30 minutes.1
As long as you avoid exercising too close to bedtime, or exercising too hard for your comfort level, the activity should help you fall asleep faster and fall into a deeper sleep.2 Try taking a walk, going for a swim, or practicing a few yoga poses and you’ll be off to sleep in no time.
It’s common knowledge that caffeine is a stimulant – it’s the reason some of us love a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. Avoiding it during the second part of your day is a good idea if your goal is to fall asleep easily; it takes up to 6 hours for just half of the caffeine you’ve consumed to be eliminated from your body!3 And while alcohol may help you fall asleep, it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which is needed to restore your body. When you lose out on REM sleep, your body can’t repair itself and you’ll wake up feeling tired and might have poor concentration throughout the day.4
Eat Light at Night
Some people think it’s a bad idea to eat before you go to sleep, however there can be benefits to a late-night snack if you choose the right foods. Cherries, bananas, fortified cereal, and dairy products all have sleep-promoting qualities. Make sure to skip the bacon cheeseburger, dark chocolate (hidden caffeine!) and sodas or energy drinks.
In order for your mind and body to wind down and eventually fall asleep, it is important to give yourself some time to relax. Breathe deeply, stretch your muscles, and make sure your bedroom is conducive for sleep (i.e. it’s a good time to turn off the mobile devices and turn on some soft, calming music).
If those tips aren’t helpful, just think about the next time daylight savings comes around. While it’s exciting to think about the extra hour of sleep we’ll get that weekend, we’ll also be preparing for the great winter hibernation (at least our fellow Minnesotans will be). Get outside and enjoy the sun while you can; your body will catch up to the hour of sleep you lost in no time.
1"Napping." National Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.