On Nov. 6, you’re going to wake up and think – ah, our national nightmare is over.
Sorry, the election isn’t until Nov. 8. But you will have gained an hour of sleep, thanks to the end of Daylight Saving Time.
This can result in some uncomfortable changes, though, so here are 10 tips to help deal with “fall back” – while you wait for the other national nightmare to be over.
1. Get natural light
Changes in your natural light intake can make a huge difference in your sleep cycle and mood. Do your best to increase exposure to natural light in the early morning hours, as this will help your body solidify a sleep cycle.
2. If no natural light, go artificial
If you have to get to work before dawn, or you don’t have the option to let natural light in during the day, look into light therapy boxes. Look for one that emits blue light, which mimics sunlight and tells the brain to stop producing melatonin, which starts your brain’s sleep engine.
3. In case of travel
Most people don’t need medications for the one-hour time change, but if you happen to be traveling across multiple time zones at the same time as a time change, looking into sleeping pills may help you get straightened out more quickly. Be careful, though – they can be addictive and affect the quality of sleep.
4. Wake up, stand up
Do your best to maintain your regular wake up time. It’s not always pleasant, but a regular sleep and wake schedule is one of the best things you can do to overcome bumps in the road like losing an hour of sleep here or there.
5. If you have kids
The downside to falling back is that small children, already allergic to spending extra time in bed, may actually start waking up an hour earlier. Starting about a week or so before the time change, every two days put your kids to bed 15 minutes later. When Nov. 6 arrives, they’ll be acclimated to going to bed later and waking up later – which washes out when the clocks reset.
6. Put that hour to good use
Yes, you could sleep in an extra hour. Or, you can take that hour and do some regular seasonal checkup around the house, such as checking the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, change the furnace and air conditioning filters, and do a quick inventory of the important and expensive things in your home.
7. Avoid stimulants in the evening
Caffeine and nicotine can get us going during the day, but overindulging in the evening can screw up a sleep cycle. Give your circadian rhythm a break and drink water or a glass of wine in the evening.
8. Stick to your routine
Experts say going through the psychological cues such as brushing teeth, putting on pajamas or reading in bed can help trigger that wind-down feeling. If you’ve got a bedtime routine, keep it up – you can fool your body a bit by applying those stimuli.
9. Check on your sleep hygiene
You can use the time change to diagnose your sleep habits. Before bedtime on Nov. 5, set your clock back an hour (cell phones will be updated automatically at 2 a.m.), and keep your alarm set for your regular wake up time. If you find yourself sleeping for the entire extra hour in the morning, experts say that’s a sign you’re sleep-deprived.
10. Don’t stress
Anxiety about changing sleep schedules can itself cause insomnia. Your body knows what to do, so if you find yourself having issues with worry about sleep, try to focus on relaxing and letting the “ZZZZs” take care of themselves.