Much to the dismay of sleep lovers everywhere, the "spring forward" Daylight Savings' time shift begins this Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 2am. Though just about everyone can get behind having longer daylight hours, it's not easy losing one hour of precious sleep come Sunday morning. But with these 6 easy tips and tricks—and a little bit of prior planning—you can make the change easier on you and your family's sleep schedule.
Rather than simply resetting your alarm clock to chime a full hour earlier on Sunday morning, try adjusting your alarm by just 20 minutes earlier in the three days leading up to the change. This will not only make it easier to re-adjust your internal clock, it may also stave off the unwelcome groggy feeling that usually follows such a drastic shift.
Tip #2: Adjust your evening "wind down" process incrementally, too.
If you're planning on slowly shifting your morning alarm in preparation for the shift, make sure you adjust your internal clock in the evening, too. If you're a savvy sleeper, you already know that routine is everything in getting to sleep. Kick off your evening routine incrementally earlier in the three days prior to the shift.
If you don't have a set routine, try simply putting down the tablet or smartphone earlier every night—the specific type of light that your devices emit keeps your brain active and awake, which is counterproductive to getting to sleep.
Tip #3: Dim the lights well before bedtime.
One of the most difficult things about the "spring forward" shift isn't waking up earlier, but going to sleep earlier. To help your body's internal clock adjust, start dimming the lights around your home about 30-45 minutes before you plan to go to bed. Darkness helps tell your brain that it's time to release melatonin, the chemical that helps send you off to sleep.
Tip #4: Make the mornings all about natural light.
Just like darkness helps your body produce helpful bedtime chemicals, so does natural light when it's time to rise. In the mornings leading up to the shift, leave your blinds open and if you have lights that can be set on a timer, have them begin to turn on incrementally earlier.
Tip #5: Make quality sleep a priority.
Sleep begets sleep, so making sure you're getting enough quality sleep in the week that leads up to the time shift will make the entire process easier on your body. If you're sleep deprived before the shift, it will inevitably be harder to drift off and transition through the most important stages of sleep—all of which are vital in maintaining a healthy sleep pattern.
Your diet and exercise routine impact your body's natural balance, including the release and reabsorption of chemicals that regulate your sleep patterns. In the week before the shift, aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day and skip the mid-afternoon coffee until after the shift. This will help your body's natural sleep rhythm.
And finally: When you do hit the sack this Saturday night, make sure it's on a quality mattress that helps you drift off for a great night's sleep. Your mind and body will thank you!