FRIDAY, March 9, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Losing an hour of sleep isn't easy for anyone, but there are ways to make springing ahead during daylight saving time easier, an expert says.
This year, daylight saving time begins Sunday at 2 a.m. local time. Clocks get moved ahead one hour.
"To sleep well your body clock has to be in synch with your daily schedule," Dr. Steven Feinsilver, director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York City, said in a hospital news release. "What sets your body clock is mostly your wake-up time. A constant wake time is the single best measure you can take for a good sleep habit. We tell bad sleepers that no matter how poor their night's sleep was, they should get up at the same time each morning."
To maintain good sleep habits, Feinsilver recommends:
- Settle on a routine wake-up time and maintain that time, give or take an hour, even on weekends. Make sure to get some exposure to natural light.
- Designate the bedroom as a sleep zone -- no bedroom TV.
- Exercise can help people get to sleep, but avoid it in the few hours before bedtime.
- Limit caffeine, especially before bedtime but also throughout the day. Caffeine can make it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep, and its effects can linger for 12 hours.
- Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it can lead to abnormal sleep and you may wake up in the middle of the night when its effects wear off. Avoid alcohol before bedtime.
- Don't let the stresses of your life eat up your last waking hour. Confine ruminating and planning to an earlier time in the evening.
- Don't go to bed right after a big meal, but don't go to bed hungry either.
For more on sleep, visit the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.