As Daylight Savings Time approaches, I’m feeling a sense of dread. Studies show that the “springing forward” wreaks havoc on the schedule of the average person. In recent months as the pandemic has raged on, sleep has become a passion of mine. Throughout my day I make careful decisions to preserve both my sleep schedule and quality. We know the pandemic is a time of stress and trauma, but the tips below will help you take control of your rest!
- Determine your ideal sleep schedule. What time do you need to wake up? What time do you need to go to sleep to keep that reasonable? For example, I start work at 7 am and am in bed by 9:30 pm. Without a commute, this means I need to be physically out of bed at 6:30 am. It’s so tempting to hang out in bed and doom-scroll Twitter for 29 minutes, but what that does is disassociate my bedroom with its true purpose: REST!
- Create a soothing environment. Studies show that sleep quality is highly dependent on your environment. It should be a dark, cool room without distraction. If your room has a lot of natural light, you may consider blackout curtains or a sleep mask. If you have a television/computer in your room, you may remove these devices entirely or you may set time limits before bed and use blue-light blocking glasses.
- Make a nighttime routine. It’s important to develop a routine to help your body wind down for the evening. For me, this looks like putting away screens by 8 pm. If my screens are not away the use of blue-light filters and glasses is essential, as the blue-light spectrum is closely linked with disrupting circadian rhythms. Around 8:30 pm I begin my skincare routine, something I find soothing and have begun to associate with good rest. By 9 pm I’m in bed and have an audiobook playing on a sleep timer.
- Look at the timing of meals. Many people don’t realize the impact of digestion on sleep, but if you eat large meals before bed your body is diverting attention from repair and recovery to digestion. Having breakfast and lunch be your biggest meals of the day can help combat this!
- We have to talk about caffeine. I am devastated to report that caffeine does impact your sleep. As a strong coffee lover, I’ve spent way too long denying it, but once I stopped having coffee after 12pm my sleep was so much more consistent.
- Consider talking to a doctor. Good sleep is integral to good health, and 30% of Americans don’t get enough of it. This can be due to a variety of factors and visiting a doctor can help you rule out and narrow in on what’s going on. Perhaps a blood panel will reveal a magnesium deficiency or may indicate that you need to complete a sleep study to learn more.
- Slowly shift your bedtime before “springing forward.” Springing forward is rough on everyone, and the drastic shift has been linked to higher heart attacks in the spring. Instead, go to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual every few days before March 14th as a way to ease into this time of year and feel your best.
Sleep can be elusive, but there are things we can all do to maximize our rest and prioritize our well-being. So often self-care is framed as doing something active or numbing to cope when all we might need is good rest. Rest is powerful, and we all deserve a world that prioritizes it.