BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The springing forward of the clocks happens this weekend. On Sunday March 8th at 2 a.m, clocks will spring forward to 3 a.m., and those of us living in states that abide by Daylight Saving Time (DST) will lose one hour of our day.
While this effectively moves one hour of daylight from the morning to the evening, allowing for long summer nights, waking up on the Monday morning after losing a whole hour of precious sleep can not only be difficult, it can also be detrimental to our health.
Take this study, which found the Monday after the clocks spring forward there is a 24 percent elevated risk of a heart attack, and the Tuesday after there is a 21 percent elevated risk of heart attack. According to the American Academy of Neurology, a 2016 study from Denmark found the risk of having a stroke can go up by 8 percent in the first two weekdays after DST. Then there is this study, which suggests the start of DST is the main cause of the increased number of traffic accidents and workplace injuries that regularly occur on the Monday after the change happens.
Since this Monday may be a little tougher than most, we've put together a list of the best ways experts say you can prepare to lose an hour of sleep.
Make Changes Early On
The National Sleep Foundation says if you're on a tight schedule, it's best to start adjusting yourself a day or two in advance. This tip works best for people who keep strict sleep times on an everyday basis.
By maintaining a regular bedtime and wake time, and then shifting those times 15-30 minutes earlier each day for a couple of days leading up to DST, it won't be so hard to wake up an hour earlier than usual on Monday. That means if you normally wake up on Monday morning at 7 a.m., you might want to practice waking up at 6:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. on the Friday and Saturday beforehand.
Minimize The Blue Light
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body when it senses darkness in order to help induce sleep. Sleep health experts say for those of us who use technology after dark, the bright LED and blue-lights that come from phones, laptops, tablets, TV's, car headlights, and even some street lamps are impacting the levels of melatonin we produce. Studies have also linked melatonin suppression to obesity, cancer, and depression.
In the days leading up to Daylight Saving Time, experts say you can try to make a habit of turning off all screens a few hours before you want to fall asleep, giving your brain the signals it needs to start producing melatonin earlier. There are also amber-tinted glasses that can block blue light, which could help your body wind down more easily.
Skip The Sunday Coffee
It might seem counter-intuitive, but drinking coffee before the time change will likely worsen your Monday morning wake up call. Since caffeine keeps us alert, experts say laying off it over the upcoming 23-hour-long Sunday will help you fall asleep earlier and more easily on Sunday night.
Even if you do want a Sunday morning coffee, try to switch to Decaff by Sunday afternoon, because despite not feeling the buzz, it can still cause you to lie awake on Sunday night. Then when Monday morning comes an hour earlier than usual, you can get a much-needed caffeinated boost.
Work Out On Sunday Morning
If avoiding caffeine all Sunday sounds truly terrible, you might want a natural energy boost instead. Health experts say getting the blood flowing early in the day can help tire you out more quickly at night. Doing a high-intensity workout before bed, however, is not a great idea since it can pump your body with endorphins which can keep you too pumped to sleep.
Going hand-in-hand with getting active early in the day is resting later in the day. Harvard Health blog recommends trying some meditation on Sunday evening to get your brain to slow down. That way, even if you do wake up with an hour less sleep than usual on Monday morning, the sleep you did get will have been deep and restful.
Avoid Late Night Heavy Meals
You may be done eating by 8 p.m., but your body is still hard at work digesting it all for several hours after you've taken your last bite. Sleep experts say a better option than a rich, heavy meal on Sunday night is an earlier lighter meal, followed by a small snack if you get hungry before bed.
There is even a two-birds-one-stone sort of solution - experts say there are certain foods that both curb hunger and help make you sleepy. The list of good pre-bedtime snacks includes seafood or poultry, a peanut butter sandwich, yogurt with granola, sliced apple with cheese, or scrambled eggs.