Tips can help you with Sunday's time change

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Tips can help you with Sunday's time change
Tips can help you with Sunday's time change

Most of us will lose an hour of the day on Sunday thanks to Daylight Saving Time, but one sleep expert is sharing tips to help you avoid fatigue.

The time change is more than an inconvenience, says Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Center specialist Kelly Brown, M.D. Studies have linked it to increased incidences of heart attacks, workplace injuries, traffic accidents and risk of Alzheimer's disease, for instance.

At the top of Brown's list to help people adjust to Daylight Saving Time — for those who normally work only on weekdays, anyway — is getting up early this weekend, as if it's a workday.

“Try to do something in bright sunlight in the morning on the weekend before the time change,” she said. “Bright sunlight shuts down our internal melatonin. If you get bright sunshine early in the morning, it helps pull your internal clock forward so it makes it easier for you to fall asleep earlier.”

If it's a dreary day outside, then substitute sunshine with a bright electronic device, such as a computer screen, or venture out to a brightly lit space. Get your grocery shopping done early at the supermarket.

Another tip for easing into the time change? Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night during the days leading up to the time change.

“A lot of the time, when people suddenly go to bed an hour earlier, they just can't fall asleep,” Brown said. “But there are lots of ways you can adjust. You could try to go to bed an hour earlier every night for a few days. You could try to get up an hour earlier in advance of the time change, but that's hard to do. Sometimes, just gradually moving your internal clock ahead is easier than making a bigger change.”

Additional tips to ease the Daylight Saving Time transition:

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening.
  • Keep the bedroom cool and dark when you go to bed.
  • Eat an early breakfast and dinner on the weekend before the time change and a good breakfast on the Monday morning after.

If fatigue and sleep patterns persist two weeks after the time change, consider undergoing a medical analysis to rule out a sleep disorder.

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