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How to Hack Your Sleep

Use This 8-Step Checklist to Maximize Energy and Get Better Sleep

Although we're about to relish in longer hours of dreamy golden daylight, the truth of the matter is that daylight saving time is totally going to mess up our sleep schedules, at least for a few days. But we're not just going to lie down (pun intended) and take it, are we?

Related: Spring Sleep Tips

Let's chat about your circadian rhythm and how to easily recalibrate it to rid that jet-laggy feeling "springing forward" can bring. To get a little expert insight on the matter, we chatted with Pete Bils, known as the "Sleep Geek." Pete takes sleep seriously: he's a member of the National Sleep Foundation and part of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "We all know our circadian rhythm is vital for quality sleep, but it's also important for other things, like mental and physical performance." said Bils. He suggested these "circadian rhythm hacks" that you can implement throughout the day, so you don't lose a single wink over DST.

  1. Early Morning (6 a.m. to 9 p.m.): Wake Up!
    Avoid sleeping in, as difficult as it may be, so you can kick-start your circadian rhythm. Expose yourself to bright light, and eat breakfast to wake up your body. May we also suggest a quick morning workout to get the blood pumping?
  2. Midmorning (9 a.m. to Noon): Capitalize on Brain Power
    Peak mental alertness occurs around 10 a.m., making this the perfect time to capitalize on your creative thinking and do some great work in the office.
  3. Noon: The Caffeine Cutoff
    During this time of recalibration, it's important to use noon as your "last call" for coffee and caffeinated beverages. Opt for a nutritious lunch to keep yourself full and energized.
  4. Early Afternoon (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.): Fight Fatigue
    If you have a standing desk in your office, now is the time to use it. Get up and walk around a little bit to stimulate blood flow and keep your body awake — you don't want to crash before bedtime!
  5. Late Afternoon (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.): Get Your Fitness In
    According to Bils, hand-eye coordination, muscle strength, flexibility, and mood are highest in the late afternoon — he cited Dr. Smolensky's The Body Clock Guide to Better Health. Take advantage of this by exercising after work! Keep yourself nourished and balanced and eat dinner after your workout — this will also help to keep your rhythm in check.
  6. Evening (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.): Cut Down Screen Time
    Don't trick your mind into thinking it's still daytime — this means eliminating blueish white light from tablets, smartphones, and, yes, even TV screens. Cutting down on screen time during these hours will drastically help your circadian rhythm, allowing for a more restful sleep. Instead of scrolling through social media, try reading, cooking yourself that post-workout dinner, catching up on laundry and chores, spending time with family and friends, or making yourself a relaxing bedtime snack.
  7. Night (9 p.m. to 10 p.m.): Cool Down (in the Shower!)
    Did you know a warm shower helps your body cool down? Your nighttime hygiene can actually help you hit the hay. Bils told us that a warm shower helps to release body heat and "start the body's nighttime cooldown, which helps aid quality sleep." And he's right: a study at The Univeristy of Texas dives into the way temperature affects our circadian rhythm. Also, set your thermostat to an optimal bedtime temperature to ensure your body is all set for snoozing.
  8. Bedtime (10 p.m.): Get Some Zzzs
    Aim to get in bed by 10 p.m. for a deep, restorative sleep. Need a bit of help nodding off? Try melatonin or any of these sleepy-time tips.

Related: A Bedtime Routine to Help With Sleep

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO
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