I think it’s safe to say a majority of us dread the end of daylight saving time, where our clocks go back one hour. This year, it ends on November 1 at 2 a.m. The one hour difference can give you a feeling similar to jet lag – and that’s because our circadian rhythm may be thrown off course. This can affect how much melatonin is released and when. We all love our sleep and its benefits (like boosting our immune system, increasing productivity, improving memory and improving our mood), so the good news is that now is actually the perfect time to reset your sleep habits to help your brain and body make the shift more quickly. Here are 5 ways you can reset your daily habits for better sleep.
Create a bedtime routine
Creating a relaxing bedtime routine or ritual is the perfect way to set the tone for the rest of your night. It helps establish and maintain good sleep habits – and it makes it easier for you to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up rested and refreshed. Start by choosing a consistent bedtime each night (approximately 8 hours before you need to wake up the next morning). Ideally, your bedtime routine should start after dinner time. I like to calm my mind before bed by limiting screen time, journaling and reading – but do whatever works for you! Whether that’s taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, drinking decaffeinated herbal tea, etc.
Don’t drink coffee after 2 p.m.
Caffeine levels peak in the blood within 15 to 45 minutes of consumption, which is when you start to experience the boost in energy. Coffee has a half-life of about 5 hours, meaning it takes about 5 hours for the caffeine level in your body to drop by half. So it’s recommended that you stop drinking coffee around 2 p.m., or at least 7 hours before bed.
Use your bedroom as a sleep-only space
Our bedrooms are usually used for more than sleep; they become our personal home theaters, lay in bed and scroll on our phones, WFH, etc. Whenever we do this, our minds start to associate our bedrooms with these activities vs. a place to relax and unwind. If you can, make your bedroom a screen-free zone with neutral colors. The National Sleep Foundation recommends taking temperature, noise levels, light and comfortableness into consideration when creating a bedroom environment.
Use natural light to help manage your circadian rhythm
Our body’s internal clock (aka circadian rhythm) is tied closely to light; it’s been proven that morning light is linked to wakefulness. Light tells the brain that it’s daytime by sending signals to the body to stop producing melatonin. To help my body wake up more naturally, I like to leave my blinds open at night so natural light can peek through in the mornings. Since bright lights (especially blue light), tricks our minds into thinking it’s daytime, limiting screen time and avoiding bright lights during your bedtime routine is a great habit to add if you haven’t already!
Exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body if you want better sleep – but what time and how you workout matters. Cardio is recommended for early mornings because it gives your muscles more time to warm up for the day. I like to set aside at least 1 hour every morning for an at-home workout (I’ve been loving Melissa Wood Health, SWEAT PWR and BBG with zero equipment!) and go on my daily walk in the afternoons. Late-night workouts are discouraged by sleep experts because working out stimulates the brain and increases your body temperature, which wakes you up mentally and physically – and that makes it harder to wind down and get a full night of sleep. So save the strength workouts for the afternoon!
One thing you can do at night is yoga or light stretching. These workouts are low-impact, so they’re more relaxing on the mind than cardio and strength training.
Are there any sleep habits that you swear by? I’d love to hear them!