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The promise of daylight saving time, like leaving work when the sun still shines, and urban parks open for lunch breaks, is a breath of fresh air after months of rain, snow and multiple layers of puffy coats. But spring does not come easily for the majority of U.S. residents. All but those in Hawaii and Arizona have to first survive the loss of an hour on Sunday when clocks move forward.
While 60 minutes doesn't seem like it should be that big of a deal, Americans are already sleep deprived and the additional loss of sleep has negative consequences. Incidences of heart attack and stroke have been shown to increase in the week following the switch, as do auto accidents. Productivity at work tends to plummet, too. Here's how to prepare for the shift in advance to help lessen the unhealthy side effects.
Sleep experts advise spending a few days getting your body ready for the time change. Beth Malow, director of the Sleep Disorders Division atVanderbilt University Medical Center tells NBC News that you should set your alarm "15-20 minutes earlier starting a few days before the time change."
The tactic will help ease your body into the time shift instead of having to compensate for the full hour Monday morning. This means avoiding the the desire to sleep in Sunday when you have the chance.
Turn Electronics Off
Whether you are trying to get more sleep to compensate for the clock change or generally want to sleep better, health experts keep repeating that it's best to turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed.
The reason? The blue light emitted by the devices messes with our internal sleep mechanism by slowing the production of melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep.
Use an Alarm Clock Instead of Your Phone
It's tempting to use your phone as an all-in-one life device, but when it comes to sleeping, the blue light it emits is only one of its negative qualities. There's also the beeps, alerts, texts and other notifications that prevent sleep or wake you up, even if you don't realize it, disrupting deep sleep.
Sleep professionals recommend leaving your phone outside of the bedroom at night and using an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake you up in the morning. If you absolutely must use your phone, change it to night mode and disable alerts.
Get Outside and Soak in Sunshine
The opposite of exposing yourself to light right before bed is getting natural light early in the day. It will help you wake up more easily in the morning, produce melatonin at the right times and help you sleep better. A short walk in the morning or during a lunch break will improve sleep patterns long-term. Experts recommend a lightbox, used as advised by a health professional in the morning to supplement natural sunshine, if needed.
Avoid Excess Caffeine
A 3 p.m. slump often leads us to the corner cafe where we seek extra shots of espresso in our extra-large iced drinks. However, the benefit is short-lived and has negative consequences later in the day. We might experience a quick jolt immediately following our afternoon coffee, but excess caffeine late in the day has been shown to reduce the total amount of sleep each night.
Kristin Amico is a career and business writer who spent more than a decade managing creative teams at digital agencies. She has written for The Muse, The Independent and USA Today.