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Many people experience a mix of emotions with the start of Daylight Saving Time, including an appreciation for the longer days, annoyance at the need to change every clock, and hope that spring will soon arrive. Accompanying these emotions are the physical and mental challenges of adapting to the time change. These challenges are due, in large part, to the loss of an hour’s sleep. What does losing an hour’s sleep mean to you? Think of all the benefits we gain from sufficient, high quality sleep. Better cognitive performance, increased emotional regulation, heightened ability to make healthy choices, and more efficient physical activity, are just some of the positive outcomes from healthy sleep. So how can we best meet the challenges of Daylight Saving Time?

The week leading up to the time change is the ideal time to prepare. The National Sleep Foundation will celebrate its annual Sleep Awareness Week ©, to encourage the public to prioritize sleep in order to improve their overall health and well-being. This year’s theme is #7Days4BetterSleep. So what can you do to adjust your sleep routine and prepare for the time change?

First, think about how you can prioritize sleep so you can obtain the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep.

Second, consider incrementally waking up earlier across the week so that you are prepared for the change. Advancing your wake-up time by 10 minutes per day, across the week will help to advance your sleep-wake cycle.

Third, solidify the synchronization of your body clock with this new external clock by exposing yourself to light upon waking and engaging in exercise during day.

Fourth, help your body prepare for an earlier bedtime by ending meals at least two hours before bed, turn off electronics an hour before bed, and create a bedtime ritual to help you wind down and get your body ready for sleep.

Regardless of how you feel about Daylight Saving Time, you can take control of how you experience this change. Use the coming week to prepare so that you can avoid losing that hour’s sleep! Follow the National Sleep Foundation’s #7Days4BetterSleep campaign to access daily tips, the Sleep Awareness Week Infographic and more! Visit sleepfoundation.org/SAW for more information.

Natalie Dautovich

Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., is the National Sleep Foundation's Environmental Scholar. She is also appointed at Virginia Commonwealth University as an Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Department of Psychology. She received her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Florida and completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of South Florida. Dr. Dautovich’s research focuses on behavioral sleep medicine and geropsychology. Specifically, she studies sleep and behavioral rhythms such as daily routines across the adult lifespan. She has published articles, book chapters, and a handbook on sleep and health and presented her research at national conferences.

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