It’s starting to get dark so early. Are you already feeling it? Daylight Savings Time ended on Nov. 5 and with it, we turned the clocks back an hour. While we got to sleep in a little longer on Sunday, the early darkness that follows the time change can cause us to feel tired and groggy. But that doesn’t mean you should fall asleep as soon as it gets pitch black outside.
How can you adjust to the time change as quickly as possible and sleep well? Read on for some tips.
1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule
As college students, many of us don’t have regular sleep schedules, but it’s really important to develop good habits. Don’t drastically shift your sleep schedule just because it’s darker outside. Try to get to bed and wake up about 10-15 minutes earlier than usual to help your body adjust. Although it might be hard in the beginning, in a couple weeks, you should feel tired when it’s close to your time to call it a night and not too tired when you wake up. Need a sleep schedule? Try this.
2. Do daily tasks at regular times
“This adjustment isn’t normally as disruptive to our bodies as the ‘spring ahead’ transition in March, but it can certainly still have an effect on our sleep cycle. My recommendations would be to stick to your normal routine and embrace that extra hour of sleep you’ll receive,” says Shannon Seiferth, a wellness educator/counselor at Health & Wellness.
Complete daily tasks, like working out and eating, when you did them before the time change so your body (and day) does not get completely thrown off. You don’t want to be hungry in the middle of the night or too energized to sleep as a result of changing your habits.
3. Limit naps
Some days you need to nap, especially if you are feeling ill, but generally limit them to about 20 minutes a day so as not to interfere with your sleep patterns at night.
4. Create a space where you can actually sleep
Take the time to create a space where you can rest. Yes, it’s tempting to look at your phone before falling asleep, but limit your use of all forms of technology an hour before you plan to go to bed. The bright lights from screens can cause your body to feel alert and not ready for sleep. Oftentimes, quickly reading a friend’s text turns into hours of scrolling through news feeds and messages or a Netflix binge-watching session. Do yourself a favor and put your devices away. Keep the lights off and the temperature cool wherever you are sleeping. Do something relaxing before bed to help yourself unwind after a busy day. Doing these things might be difficult at times, but your body will thank you.
Why is sleep important?
“Sleep allows the mind and body to rest and recharge itself; it’s what sets us up for peak performance the next day. Sleep is what gives us the energy we need to do well in class, cope with stress and stay active,” says Seiferth.
Sleep is always important, but it’s an especially timely topic due to the recent time change. Lack of sleep can lead to many problems, including:
- Poor academic and athletic performance
- Memory loss and inability to concentrate
- Increased fatigue
- A weakened immune system
- Headaches and stomach aches
How much sleep do I need?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended range of hours of sleep per night for young adults ages 18-25 is seven to nine hours, though some people might need a minimum of six or a maximum of 11. These ranges differ from person to person. Be mindful of how much sleep you are getting versus how much you should be getting.
By applying these tips, a good night’s sleep should be in your future, even with the seasonal darkness.