March is a month we welcome! The weather warms up, the sun shines more. The whole world just feels like it’s waking up after a big long chilly slumber. The clocks will go forward by an hour on Sunday 31st March making the evenings a little shorter again just temporarily.
If your body-clock gets a bit out of whack with all this confusion, here are some helpful things to try to get you back in that perfectly rested sleepy-time rhythm.
Adjust your bedtime... but be patient. If you’re aiming to go to sleep earlier, try slowly scaling back your bedtime until you are at the desired hour. Adjust your bedtime by no more than 15 minutes earlier every two to three days.
Do not nap... even if you feel tired. Napping can interfere with going to sleep at night. Try exercising when you feel like napping. The exercise will chase away the sleepiness. Then you can save up that drive to sleep for later.
Bye-bye lie-in... and get up at the same time each day. Being consistent is important in maintaining a functioning sleep schedule. Get a good alarm clock and don’t hit snooze. The clock in your head needs instructions, it needs to know, what is your desired time to get up. Your brain expects you to more or less wake up at the same time every day. The idea of weekends or travel across time zones is foreign to how the brain works.
Be strict... by sticking to your sleep schedule. Once you have reached a workable bedtime and a consistent wake up time, don’t allow yourself to stray from it. Even one late night can ruin the progress you’ve made. Predictability is key.
Avoid exposure to light... before you want to sleep. According to research exposure to evening light can shift your body clock to a later schedule. Reducing household
light exposure before bedtime is a simple and effective step towards reducing circadian misalignment. This includes light from phones, laptops, and TV screens, so keep your surroundings dim at night.
Avoid activity & eating... or exercising too close to bedtime. Exercise can wake you up and food can give you heartburn, which could keep you up. Also watch out for caffeine and nicotine, both of which are stimulants.
Set the mood... and create a relaxing bedtime routine. Take a warm bath and play some relaxing music, for instance. Make sure your bed is comfortable, the room is dark, and the temperature is not too warm. Going to sleep should not be a chore.
Try melatonin... under supervision from your doctor. Melatonin supplements can help to reset your circadian rhythms as melatonin’s main job in the body is to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, which signals the body to prepare for sleep. Some people who have trouble sleeping have low levels of melatonin.