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Doctor says you can adjust to lost hour of sleep if you avoid one big mistake

While it means more light, and a significant sign of spring, this weekend marks the “bad” time change where we set clocks forward one hour to daylight savings time and our bodies lose an hour of sleep. One physician at Carle says if you follow a few tips and avoid one common mistake, you should adapt quickly to the time change.

“The worst thing you can do is force yourself to go to bed at the new time while your body is still an hour behind,” said Charles Davies, MD, PhD, sleep specialist and neurologist at Carle. He added, “If you force yourself to go to bed, all you’ll do is lay there for an hour. In fact, you can develop insomnia if you go to bed before you feel tired. Go to bed when you feel tired, don’t sleep in in the morning, and your body will soon adjust to the new time.”

Dr. Davies also encourages people to develop “good sleep hygiene.” That means people should reserve the bed for sleep. “Be sure your bedroom is dark and quiet with no distractions. Don’t read, text or watch TV in bed. When you do that, you’re training your brain to be awake in bed and it will be harder to fall asleep,” he said. He added that people should avoid caffeine before going to bed. Chocolate contains caffeine, so don’t have a bowl of chocolate ice cream before bedtime!

If you feel like you need a sleep aid, Dr. Davies said you can get melatonin over the counter. “One half to one milligram of melatonin can be taken six hours before bedtime to help advance the sleep cycle,” Davies commented. Also, bright light for 30 minutes after waking can help advance the sleep cycle.

While it may be difficult the first night or two, Dr. Davies says the body can adjust quickly. “Humans can adjust their circadian rhythm by one hour each day. “Go to bed when you feel tired, avoid sleeping in the next morning, and your body will soon adjust to the new time.”