Spring forward right: Use the time change to jump-start healthier sleep habits

March 8th, 2019

This Sunday, clocks creep forward an extra hour at 2 a.m. as part of daylight saving time. While it’s possible you’ll be fast asleep during the time change, it’s likely you’ll feel the drag the next morning.

Although the daylight will be around longer in the evening, it’s still important that you keep up with your old sleep schedule, and perhaps make some new healthy habits in the meantime.

Dr. Michael Dewey, a Colorado native and family medicine doctor, cares for patients at the UCHealth Family Medicine Clinic in Westminster.

Dewey, a 39-year-old father of two, says lifestyle changes, like getting enough exercise, can make a big difference in getting better sleep.

Sleep deprivation among new parents like the Deweys can be a challenge. But all of us can boost our health by getting a better night’s sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to diverse health problems from obesity to Alzheimer’s.

Many patients assume medications are the best path to a good night’s sleep. But, Dewey said, behavioral changes can have a far greater impact. For about 90 percent of patients, good sleep hygiene can make all the difference.

Nine times out of 10, Dewey says tinkering with your diet, exercise regimen and your sleep hygiene can fix sleep problems.

Even better, good sleep habits can have lasting impacts while medications only promote short-term fixes. What’s more, researchers are finding that people get deeper, higher-quality sleep when they rest naturally versus relying on sleep medications.

So, do yourself a favor and use this weekend as a springboard for better sleep.

Here are Dr. Dewey’s top 7 tips for getting a better night’s sleep after daylight saving time:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day, including on weekends.
  • Avoid exposure to light-emitting devices, like laptops, phones, TVs and computers for at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.
  • Create an atmosphere that promotes sleep in your bedroom. Keep the temperature cool. Keep the room dark and quiet and make your room a device-free oasis.
  • Get regular exercise, but avoid exercising within two hours of going to bed.
  • Watch your caffeine intake and avoid caffeine after noon.
  • Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
  • If you are having regular difficulty getting enough sleep, discuss your sleep challenges with your health care provider.

The UCHealth Family Medicine Clinic in Westminster provides care for patients of all ages. To reach Dr. Dewey or any of the other providers in Westminster, please call 720-848-9400 or schedule an appointment today.

About the author

UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. With 24,000 employees, UCHealth includes 12 acute-care full-service hospitals and hundreds of physicians across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. With University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus as its academic anchor and the only adult academic medical center in the region, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.