Newswise — You have your nightly rituals: Perhaps you watch television or read a good book before preparing for the next morning and hitting the lights. Some may endlessly scroll through social media on your phone in the dark. For the busy or the stressed, every night could be different — and your sleep suffers for it.
“Daylight saving time, on March 11, is a great moment to stop and rethink your sleep routine,” says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of graduate psychology at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
Mindell, chair of the Pediatric Sleep Council, is a pediatric sleep psychologist whose forthcoming article “Benefits of a bedtime routine in young children: Sleep, development and beyond,” touts the holistic benefits of a regular sleep routine. For kids, nightly practices — reading a story, taking a bath, brushing your teeth and eating a snack — support every aspect of development, including literacy, hygiene and nutrition.
Parents looking for advice around daylight saving time, bedtime routines and all other concerns about their baby’s sleep can have their questions answered via Facebook on Thursday, March 1, during the Pediatric Sleep Council’s annual Baby Sleep Day.
“We emphasize bedtime routines for kids,” says Mindell, “but it’s clear that adults need them, too.”
With adults, the added challenge of eliminating cell phone use in the bedroom is both a distraction that delays bedtime and a brain stimulant, according to Mindell. Her advice is to eliminate the temptation altogether, saying, “Get your smartphone off your nightstand, charge it in another room overnight and use an old-fashioned alarm clock.”
Mindell knows daylight savings time negatively impacts sleep. She says that shifting the clocks by an hour this March is more difficult to manage than an hour of jetlag.
“If you fly to Chicago from New York, you shift by an hour, but the sun still rises and sets at the same times of day,” says Mindell. “The problem with daylight saving is your internal clock’s external driver [the sun] shifts by an hour. That can take up to a week to adjust to.”
And in the interim, you’re not sleeping well. Mindell says that lack of sleep, unsurprisingly, negatively impacts most aspects of your physical and mental health. At all ages, lack of sleep affects mood and emotional regulation, prompting more tantrums in young kids and feelings of frustration and anxiety in adults. She also points to side effects in cognitive ability (memory and decision making), school or work performance, and overall health — for instance, catching a cold more easily. In the worst case scenario, studies show a higher rate of auto accidents after daylight saving weekend.
“Missing a few nights of sleep is no joke,” says Mindell, who recommends proactively setting strong bedtime routines ahead of March 11. Though it may not prevent some trouble sleeping altogether, “improving your nighttime rituals can be a good start.