When we set our clocks forward this weekend, we'll gain an hour of sunlight and lose an hour of sleep. But adjusting to the time change can take a heavy toll on our health, especially for those who are already sleep-deprived.
Our bodies follow a 24-hour pattern, and an hour's difference can disrupt the body's natural rhythms, potentially causing sleep deprivation, irritability, headaches and other health hazards. University of Alabama researchers found that setting clocks forward one hour is associated with a 10 percent increase in the risk of heart attacks, according to Science Daily.
To ease your transition into the new season, try these five tips:
Go to bed earlier.
Get ready for the time change a few days in advance by going to sleep 30 minutes earlier. Hitting the hay half an hour earlier will prepare your internal clock for waking up an hour earlier on Monday. By making this extra effort, your body won't have to fight against the extra 20 or 30 minutes of sleep it wants.
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Adjust your clock the day before.
If you have a relaxed schedule on Saturday, set your clocks forward earlier in the day. Shifting the times of daily activities and meals can help prepare for the adjustment.
Get a good night's sleep.
Try not to nap during the weekend, and avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine or any other substances that can affect your ability to fall asleep, WebMD suggests.
Don't forget to work out.
Remember to exercise. Avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime, since they may make it more difficult to fall asleep, WebMD recommends.
Be productive Sunday morning.
On Sunday morning, avoid laziness. Expose yourself to as much sunlight as you can. Not only will it boost your energy levels, but it will also make you more alert.