While we welcome the extra hour of sleep Daylight Saving Time (DST) “gives” us in the fall, losing an hour of sleep in the spring seems to throw off our entire schedule, making us cranky and tired—much like the feeling of jet lag—for the few days after.
But there are ways to get ahead and beat the DST exhaustion. The most obvious—but not always easiest—way to prepare is to get to bed earlier for the four days preceding the time change, says Shalini Paruthi, MD, spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “On Wednesday night, go to bed 15 minutes earlier than your usual bedtime, and then Thursday go to bed 15 minutes earlier than that, and the same for the next two days. By the time Saturday comes, you’re sort of already on-schedule for losing that one hour of sleep”
For some people, going to bed earlier than usual (especially if they don’t feel sleepy yet), may result in tossing and turning, which can be stressful. But a few simple transformations can turn your bedroom into a space that’s more conducive to sleep, so you’ll fall asleep faster and getter a better night’s rest.
Set the Thermostat
You might be inclined to set the thermostat super low at night to save money on the energy bill, but resist setting it too low. “Ideal sleeping temperature has been tested, and experts understand that people get better sleep in general between 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit,” explains Paruthi. If you find that range is too warm or chilly for you, don’t stress, she says—a few degrees warmer or cooler won’t make a huge difference. Just remember: research does back that range, so it’s a good place to start.
Keep It Dark
Make sure your room is as dark as possible—especially in the spring, when days are getting longer and it’s lighter in both the evenings and early mornings. If your blinds aren’t doing the trick, Paruthi recommends investing in blackout curtains. Why total darkness? Light exposure (including the light you’re your cellphone) before bed can throw off your body’s ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that helps put you to sleep.
Pick the Right PJs
Good news: The right choice is whatever you’re most comfortable in, says Paruthi. “Pajamas are very much personal preference,” she says. “Some people like the satin feel, some people like cotton, some people like flannel. I haven’t seen any research studies specifically on types of clothing and helping to facilitate sleep.”
Once you’ve set your room up for sleep success, take the next step and cut out these five bad bedtime habits. And if you’re still having trouble nodding off at bedtime, try one of these stress-relieving yoga poses for better sleep.