How to sleep: Tips for getting a good night’s rest when the clocks go forward

Daylight saving time: Why do the clocks go forward?

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If you’re pretty good at following a bedtime structure, the change in timing can cause a bit of uneasiness. Even though the clock reads a certain time, your internal circadian rhythm might not agree. The circadian rhythm is an internal body clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. “When properly aligned, a circadian rhythm can promote consistent and restorative sleep,” said the Sleep Foundation.

However, if it’s thrown off kilter – which a change in time most certainly can do – then significant sleep issues can arise, such as insomnia.

Sleep issues can include struggling to fall asleep, waking up during the night, or waking up earlier than you’d like.

A disrupted circadian rhythm can result in “shallower, fragmented, and lower-quality sleep”.

Get a better night’s sleep

“How you prepare for bed can determine how easily you’ll be able to fall asleep,” said the Sleep Foundation.

Thirty minutes before you plan on going to sleep, ensure you’re factoring in 30 minutes of down time.

Utilise this 30-minute window to take advantage of whatever you find relaxing. This can include:

  • Light stretching
  • Soft music
  • Reading
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Meditation
  • Breathing techniques

Also make sure you’re unwinding in a dimly-lit room, as bright lights can hinder the production of the hormone melatonin – essential for sleep.

During this relaxation period, refrain from using any electronic devices, such as:

  • Phones
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • TV
  • Kindles

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These activities might cause “mental stimulation”, which can cause difficulty with a restful night’s sleep.

If you notice that a relaxing activity, such as reading, keeps you alert instead, then take note that this doesn’t work for you.

Any activity that creates mental stimulation – whatever that may be – needs to be avoided half hour before you wish to fall asleep.

While in bed, if you find yourself tossing and turning for more than 20 minutes, you need to leave the comfort of your bed.

The last thing anybody wants to do is create an association between insomnia and their sheets.

When you’ve moved away from the bed, proceed to do a calming activity in dim light until you feel sleepy again.

Once you feel ready for bed, try again – repeat the process if necessary.

In that time when you’re trying to fall asleep, do stay away from nicotine and alcohol.

“Nicotine stimulates the body in ways that disrupt sleep,” explained the Sleep Foundation.

And even though alcohol is a depressant, and can make you feel sleepy in the moment, it disrupts your sleep later in the night.

It should go without saying that caffeine should also be off limits too, even way before you plan on falling asleep.

In addition, a bedroom should be cool, dark and quiet in order to have a good night’s sleep.

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