If you are planning to set yourself up for sleep success the week before and the night of the change back to standard time, check out this article.
I also want to answer a question I’m often asked when the time changes:
After the time change, I will be waking up in the dark, what are the best things I can do to wake up when it is dark outside?
I have a few hacks, tips and secrets for you to help you wake up when it is dark out!
Step #1 Go to bed consistently according to your Chronotype (when possible). Remember your chronotype is your genetically predetermined sleep schedule (think early bird or night owl). If you don’t know what your chronotype is, then take my quiz www.chronoquiz.com and find out. If you already know your chronotype, but can’t follow that schedule due to work, social commitments or something else, at least be consistent. REMEMBER: The more consistent your sleep schedule is, the easier it is to fall asleep and most importantly for this question, to wake up!
Step #2 Eliminate Blue Light at Night. This will allow you to fall asleep more quickly which will also allow you to wake up more easily. As you all know I am a big fan of Blue Light Blocking Glasses. Remember, evening blue light exposure delays Melatonin production. You want your melatonin production to start early because if it is still running when you wake up in the dark, it makes it far more difficult to wake up.
Step #3 Bring on the Morning Light! Morning light, from a light box or GoodDay bulbs will certainly help. Remember how I always say you do not want blue light at night? Well, it is the opposite in the mornings. Blue light in the morning turns off the melatonin faucet, making it easier to wake up. You are looking for 20 min of light from one of the earlier mentioned light sources (blubs or boxes). It does not have to be direct, you can have it one while you are brushing your teeth, or when you are eating breakfast, or doing other morning activities. Obviously, you do not want to do this near your bedpartner if they don’t get up at the same time, so keep their sleep in mind when you add blue light.
Step #4. Make some music. Music can evoke many emotions, so why not play something that helps wake you up? Is there a song that brings back some nostalgic memories for you? Do you have a workout playlist? Using music that moves you can definitely help you wake up in the morning, give it a try.
Step #5. End with a cool, NOT cold shower. It turns out that temperature can also be used when trying to gain a level of alertness, and cold works well. Go ahead and take your morning shower (GoodDay Bulbs) and for the last minute slowly turn the handle to make the water gradually cooler. Don’t go too crazy but do make it mildly uncomfortable. The cool water causes your blood to shunt to your trunk which turns out to be very alerting, and helpful for morning wake ups!
Step #6. Fill up your tank. Avoid carbs in the morning. It is a well-researched fact that carbs make you sleepy. If you are having a muffin or a bagel you might as well be taking a sleeping pill. Look for a light, high protein, high fat breakfast for energy in the morning. If you are going to drink coffee, wait until 90 min after you wake up. The timing is important since you want the caffeine to give you that boost, right as your cortisol lowers in order to get it back up again. Cortisol is one of the most alerting hormones in the body.
Some people have trouble falling when they turn the clock back, if that is the case, you can try my Aktiv Sleep Booster, many find that it works great for helping them get to sleep and stay asleep.
Dr. Michael Breus