Spring is a time for rain, plants, and the happiness of longer days. It is also the time of year where we spring the clock ahead one hour; thereby changing the time we get up and go to bed. Although the clock on the nightstand may say it is an hour later, our bodies do not change quite so easily. Every year many people suffer from insomnia due to the inability to adapt to this change. There are some steps you can take to help make the adjustment go a little more smoothly for yourself and your family.
The first step you should take is to go to bed at the same time. That means the time on the clock. If you go to bed at 10 p.m. then you should continue to do so. Although you may not be tired you should continue to keep the same routine. For example at 9:30 read for 15 minutes. At 9:45 wash up and brush your teeth, at 9:55 get on your pajamas and prep your bed and at 10:00 go to bed. By keeping the same routine you tell your body this is bed time and that your brain needs to slow down. This does not mean you will not have difficulty. If you find that after 20 minutes you cannot go to sleep you should get up and do a quiet activity for a little while, then try again. Remember that you do not want to be exposed to bright light during that activity because it stimulates the brain telling your body it’s daytime and that you should be awake.
The day of the change and the next few days it might benefit you to do a little more strenuous activity as this might help make you feel more fatigue, which will help you initiate sleep. Go outside and play catch with the kids or do some extra gardening. If the weather does not permit outdoor activities then go to the mall for a nice long walk.
Keep in mind that it stays light later and you will need to keep the light out of the bedroom. This is an excellent time to wash the curtains and change them out if they are not the type that block light. This is especially true with the children’s room as they tend to go to bed earlier. Our brains work on a rhythm, and light helps to stimulate the brain to say it is time to be awake. At night we need the darkness to help us to go to sleep.
The last thing is to make sure you get a good dose of sunlight in the morning. Remember your brain is stimulated by light. The florescent lights in the office and classroom are not the same as sunlight. A minimum of 20 minutes of sunlight tells your brain this is time to be awake. So as important as it is to keep your routine for going to bed it is just as important to not sleep in the next day and to go out for a little walk to get your brain going. The mixture of the light, exercise, and adjusting your wakeup time will help you to adjust faster to the change in time.
Our body’s internal clock does not know that it is daylight savings time but with a little effort we can shift our rhythms so we can enjoy the extra time we have during the longer summer days.