Are you mentally prepped for the end of Daylight Saving time this Sunday? Even though it means an extra golden 60 minutes, "falling back" an hour can throw your sleep cycle out of whack. And it's tough enough to get sufficient Zs as it is. But there are ways to make the time change go smoother, says Param Dedhia, MD, the director of sleep medicine at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. "What you do during the day really affects your quality of rest," he says. Below are four common mistakes to avoid during daylight hours, so you can get the best sleep possible as your biological clock catches up.
If you're sleep deprived, spending another hour in bed Sunday morning isn’t the worst idea, says Dr. Dedhia. But if you're awake bright and (extra) early, he recommends using your bonus 60 minutes to relax before bedtime. Dim your lights, turn off your computer and smartphone, and indulge in your favorite self-soothing strategy, whether that's taking a warm bath, curling up in your coziest sweats, or adding a few drops of lavender to your diffuser. In the evening, "it’s important to focus on yourself and be introspective,” he says. “It’ll set you up for a good night’s sleep tonight and even for the night after.”
Overdosing on caffeine
In the week after the time change, you may feel groggy in the afternoons and find yourself craving a cup of coffee. But that quick energy boost probably isn't worth it: Having caffeine late in the day may make it hard to fall asleep come bedtime. If you can’t resist the craving, however, Dr. Dedhia suggests filling your cup halfway, so you're consuming half as much coffee as you normally do.
If that 3 o'clock craving doesn't go away, "it's a sign you should pay attention to your quality of sleep at night," says Dr. Dedhia. In other words, it might be time to spruce up your sleep hygiene.
Having a nightly glass of wine
Initially, alcohol may help induce the drowsiness you long for on a messed up sleep schedule. But ultimately it will have an adverse effect, says Dr. Dehia. Research shows that alcohol disrupts sleep during the night, and leads to poorer quality Zs.
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Eating too late
Dining shortly before bedtime interferes with your body's natural sleep cues, says Dr. Dehia. “Digesting large amounts of food doesn’t let the body rest,” he explains. To set yourself up for full night's sleep, try to have dinner a few hours earlier. And if you're not able eat until late, have a smaller portion that's easier to digest before you hit the hay.