Daylight savings: how to get back that precious lost hour of sleep

Daylight savings: how to get back that precious lost hour of sleep

Get ready to roll your clock forward — and lose an hour of sleep.

Daylight time is upon us, once again. On Sunday, March 12, many Canadians will reluctantly push their clocks forward an hour.

The notion of moving the clock ahead an hour only to move it back seven months later has long frustrated many Canadians. But there is an added bonus — more sunlight.

Unfortunately, for many people, making the switch isn't easy, and a groggy Monday morning looms large in their future. Fortunately, there are ways to make the adjustment swiftly — and it all starts with tightening up your sleep habits, according to insomnia expert Patrick Myers.

1. Optimize sleep hygiene

Myers says one of the keys to getting a more swift and comfortable sleep relies on cultivating optimal sleep hygiene.

This includes ensuring that the room is dark and steering clear of certain foods and drinks before bed, including items that can spur indigestion.

Ensure that your sleeping quarters are comfortable, and if you happen to get up in the middle of the night to go to the washroom, try to avoid turning on bright lights. It helps to stay away from screens before bed.

"Turn your phone off at night." he said.

2. Don't take long naps

If you're thinking about taking a long nap to make up for the lost hour, think again.

"It is preferred that [sleep] is continuous," said Myers.

While eight straight hours of sleep is is ideal, Myers says naps can be useful when feeling groggy — but limit them to 30 minutes

"[If it's] longer than a half hour, it starts interfering with your circadian rhythm," the body's sense of night and day which informs your sleeping pattern.

3. The 4-7-8 rule

Myers says one of the most common reasons that people lie awake at night is that they can't turn their minds off.

"Good sleepers, what do they think about [before bed]? Nothing," said Myers. Inversely, bad sleepers tend to think about 'everything.'

But there are ways to limit the amount of mental distractions that take place while you lie in bed. One of the most effective techniques is by focusing on your breathing.

The 4-7-8 rule is one of many breathing techniques. It requires breathing in for four seconds through the nose, holding the breath for seven seconds and exhaling for eight seconds through the mouth.

For some people, the trick can have them out cold after just a few cycles. Myers says its effectiveness rests in its ability to refocus your brain.

"If you can just focus on 4-7-8 and breathing, then you've got your mind focused on something very specific and very trivial, and ... we are breathing in a way that's going to bring relaxation to the body."

With files from CBC's BC Almanac

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Phillip Myers shares tricks to help you fall asleep