Insomnia: Tips for Managing Sleep Problems Following Time Change

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Another Daylight Savings Time that caused us all to lose an hour of sleep on Saturday night no doubt led to many complaints of insomnia in the break room on Monday morning. The hour time change may have thrown many of us off our sleep schedules, but there are a few things you can do that may help you get back to your normal sleep cycle.

According to Dr. Colleen Carney, most people will be able to adjust to the time change even "if they do nothing to compensate. That is, the deprivation will result in an increase in deep sleep the following night and in a day or two you will feel like you did previously." If you don't think you will be one of those people or want to make the adjustment more quickly, check out the tips below.

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Intake

While it's probably a no-brainer to skip out on coffee and soda a couple hours before you plan to go to sleep, any caffeine you consume after lunch can impact your ability fall asleep. To help matters--at least until you're back on a regular sleep pattern--switch to decaffeinated tea and soda with your evening meal.

Alcohol is another culprit that can affect your sleep quality. Even though alcohol is classified as a depressant and may very well help you fall asleep, it reportedly "prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes you to awaken in the middle of the night." If quality of sleep is important to you--and it should be, especially when you're trying to adjust your sleep schedule--nix the nightcap.

Exercise During the Day

Exercise is often suggested to people who struggle with insomnia, and it could help a short-term sleep problem as well. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a "single exercise session found that a bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep." The study also found that "vigorous" aerobic exercises such as running didn't help, so getting in a good 30-minute walk before you start your nighttime routine may be just what you need to get back on a regular sleep schedule.

Try an Over-the-Counter Sleep Aid

If you aren't able to get back on a regular sleep schedule on your own after trying for a couple of days, you may want to try an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. While long-term use of OTC sleep aids can cause you to become dependent on them, using a sleep aid for a couple of nights could help you get back to normal. Some sleep aids such as Tylenol PM and ZZZQuil can leave you feeling groggy the next day, so you may want to give the hormone melatonin a try. According to Medline Plus, people often take melatonin to "adjust the body’s internal clock."

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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