Here’s What To Do If Daylight Savings Messes With Your Sleep

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Ready or not, here it comes. That's right, spring forward is happening March 10, 2019 at 2 a.m local time. While the extra daylight provided by the time change is certainly welcome after a brutal winter, the accompanying sleep loss is a literal drag. If you're wondering how to deal with sleep loss from March 2019 Daylight Saving Time, it's similar to recovering from jet lag. Basically, any kind of time change messes with your body's internal clock, and Claire Caruso, Ph.D., wrote for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's science blog that adjusting to spring forward can take about a week.

"The reason for these problems is thought to be disruption to circadian rhythms and sleep. Circadian rhythms are daily cycles of numerous hormones and other body functions that prepare us for the expected times for sleeping, eating, and activity. Circadian rhythms have difficulty adjusting to an abrupt one-hour time change," Dr. Caruso explained. If you think it won't happen to you, the truth is that Daylight Saving Time affects almost everyone, so knowing how to minimize its impact can help you feel less cranky the week following the time change. Unfortunately, surviving Daylight Saving Time like a boss takes some effort. That being said, if you're particularly sensitive to sleep loss, it might be worth it.

"For the spring time change, starting about three days before, one can gradually move up the timing of wakening and bedtime, meals, exercise, and exposure to light earlier by 15–20 minutes each day until these are in line with the new time," Dr. Caruso noted. "About one hour before bedtime, keep the lights dim and avoid electronic lit screens on computers, tablets, etc. to help the body move earlier the time it is ready to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night."

Because spring forward is Saturday night/Sunday morning, this means taking it easy the weekend of DST. In fact, plan a self-care weekend so you'll be less tempted to stay out late and get even less sleep. Not good at planning or keeping track of things? Download the SleepScore app, which can do all of that for you and set you up for success. Think of it like your very own spring-forward assistant. You can also track your sleep quality and quantity with a device like Fitbit. If you decide to plow ahead despite the guaranteed sleep loss, you could be hella cranky the week following DST.

"Leading up to Daylight Saving [Time], it’s important to keep a consistent sleep cycle. Ideally we would sleep when we are tired and wake when we feel well rested," Conor Heneghan, sleep expert and director of research, algorithms at Fitbit tells Bustle. Shifts like Daylight Savings can impact our schedule, so it’s important to find a routine that helps keep your body on track. According to Fitbit’s Sleep Analysis, bedtimes typically vary by 64 minutes on average per night, which will only increase when factoring in Daylight Saving [Time] changes.

Heneghan recommends sticking to a solid bedtime routine in the days leading up to the time change, as well as committing to waking up at the same time every day. "It’s best to set one alarm for the latest time you can wake up and be consistent. Fitbit data has shown that people with the most regular time-to-bed typically sleep longer than anyone else." In addition, The Better Sleep Council advised laying off the alcohol, nighttime snacking, and caffeine prior to DST, because these things can affect your sleep to begin with.

"Eating and drinking can actually disrupt your sleep. Plan to finish meals and snacks [two to three] hours before bedtime because digestion wakes up your body. Alcohol and caffeine are also sleep interrupters when consumed before bed. Limit caffeine to the morning and finish your alcohol consumption by early evening. Smoking before bed can also stimulate your body and make it hard to sleep," The Better Sleep Council noted on its website.

While DST is a total pain, a little preparation up front can help save you from a week or more of exhaustion. And let's be honest, anything that makes you less tired is 100 percent worth it.