Spring forward and still catch those Z’s.

When Daylight Savings rolls around, it means spring is in the air and warmer months are ahead. It also means some slight changes in people’s sleep patterns. These subtle changes have been studied and the results may surprise you. Per Live Science, it turns out that there is an increase in heart attacks, work-related injuries, cluster headaches, and cyberloafing in the days following Daylight Savings. To avoid being a statistic during this time of year, you want to ensure you're taking care of yourself, which means knowing how to get enough sleep throughout the night. These tips can also help improve sleep habits throughout the year!

How do you know you're not getting enough sleep?

For some of us, the minute we wake up, it’s clear that going back to bed for just a few more minutes would help us get through our day a little easier. Then there are those of us who don't realize we're not getting enough sleep until the symptoms set in. If you feel moody or your performance is negatively impacted, it might mean you're not getting enough sleep and could benefit from learning how to improve sleep habits. Statistics from Harvard Medical School show that insomnia can cause psychiatric disorders that lead to changes in mood and negatively impact work performance. Also, if you find that your judgment is impaired, you look a bit rough, and you're generally not feeling well, then lack of sleep might be the culprit.

Here’s how to get enough sleep if these symptoms start to pop up.

Use apps that monitor your sleep patterns

With today's technology, you can track your sleep patterns without a visit to the doctor's office. There are several apps and devices you can download or purchase to help you know how well you're sleeping. Fitbit One is a gadget that helps you monitor your exercise and sleep patterns. Sleep as Android, Sleep Cycle, and Sleep Bot are all apps you can download to help you monitor your sleep as well.

Create productive bedtime routines and rituals

Daylight Savings or not, a routine can help you relax and get mentally prepared to snooze. Find a bedtime routine that helps you relax and de-stress. Doing so will allow you to rest better once your head hits the pillow. This might mean a warm bath with some lavender bath salts, lighting a candle and meditating, or reading a book, for example. It's also helpful if your bedtime routines and rituals are consistent from night to night.   

Avoid the TV, phone, and computer right before bed

The brain needs some time to rest and prepare for sleep.  Per Psych Centra, artificial lighting from the TV, computer, and phones has been proven to disrupt sleep patterns. The bright screens of your phone or computer will make your brain think it's still time to work, so falling asleep will be more difficult. The same goes for watching TV, especially a high-intensity show that your body and mind are reacting to as you watch. To improve sleep habits, try going without any of these devices at least an hour before bedtime. Many health professionals suggest you avoid having them in the bedroom at all.

Use a nightlight

If you wake up in the middle of the night and turn the light on, it tricks your brain into thinking it's time to get up, which means your melatonin levels begin to decrease, making it more difficult to fall back to sleep. Use a soft night light to guide you at night instead of having to turn on a bright light when you go to the bathroom.

Related: 9 Habits That Will Make You Happier in the Office

Don't eat after 8 p.m.

For some, eating late at night can disrupt sleep patterns. It can make it difficult to fall asleep and cause you to dream more. To improve sleep habits, don't eat late and especially avoid caffeinated products that can keep you awake.

Avoid alcohol and nicotine before bed

Though many think that alcohol helps them sleep, it actually has a rebound effect, per WebMD. It might help you fall asleep, but you'll likely wake up in the middle of the night and find it difficult to fall back to sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant, so to improve sleep habits it's best to avoid that before bedtime as well.

Use a sound machine app

If you're the type of person who wakes at the sound of every little noise or has trouble falling to sleep because it's either too noisy or too quiet, consider downloading a sound machine app. Apps like Relax Melodies have sounds including sleep sounds, rain sounds, relaxation sounds, and white-noise baby sleep sounds.

Go to sleep early

Several online sites, including Dr. OZ's blog, report on studies that show your body heals the most between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.. This time frame allows for the most regenerative sleep, and any sleep after this time period is more superficial. Get to bed early for the most restful and regenerative night's sleep and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.

Avoid high-intensity exercise

As explained on WebMD, avoid intense exercise three hours prior to bedtime. Intense exercise can ramp up your system and keep you awake.

Get up at the same time each morning

A routine is critical to getting enough sleep. It helps to create consistent sleep habits to improve sleep patterns, from going to bed at the same time each night to getting up at the same time each morning, including weekends.  

Don’t let your pets sleep with you

I have a cute little doggie, and I can't help but let her climb into bed with me every once in awhile. At the same time, if you have a dog that moves around a lot or likes to cuddle on you, and you tend to get overheated, then keep them out of your bed so you can get a better night's sleep.

These are just a few of the tips on how to support and improve sleep habits. Getting seven to eight hours of restful and regenerative sleep at night, for most, helps keep productivity, mood, health, and overall well-being in good standing — which can help keep your career in good standing.

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