Turning our clocks back one hour in the fall can be disruptive to our sleep patterns, says Sabrina Brem, an instructor at Columbia University School of Nursing, making a few suggestions to help with the transition:
Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day is the “single most important thing” to getting a good night’s sleep, she says.
“Plus or minus two hours can be OK, but you’ll have the best sleep if you can stick to a very similar routine seven days a week,” Brem said.
It is also important to avoid stimulating activity before bedtime, which means no exercise, television, iPad, iPhone, tablet, or bright screen of any kind. If you like to read before bed, Brem suggests an actual book or a device with e-ink.
Brem also suggest no caffeine six hours before bedtime and no alcohol three hours before bed.
“Lots of people will say a cocktail helps them fall asleep, and it does,” says Brem. “The trouble is usually that cocktail will also cause you to have fitful sleep, wake up frequently, and feel unrested in the morning.”
The National Sleep Foundation adds these tips to Brem’s suggestions to get a good nights sleep:
- Create a bedtime ritual.
- Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
- Exercise daily.
- Create a soothing sleep environment, which includes cool temperatures and no light.
- Make sure your mattress has not exceeded its life expectancy – usually 9-10 years.
- Avoid cigarettes and heavy meals at bedtime.
- If you can’t sleep, get up and do something relaxing until you are tired.
- Speak to your health care provider if you are still having trouble sleeping.