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5 tips for surviving the time change

5 tips for surviving the time change
This is the weekend we -- ugh! -- change the clocks. (Getty)

Ugh. It's the worst night of the year: Time to "spring" forward and lose a precious hour of sleep Sunday.

The transition to daylight saving time can be especially brutal, said Dr. Alon Y. Avidan, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. "The body has a harder time adjusting to losing sleep," he said. Here are his tips for surviving the time change on Sunday:

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1. Head to bed earlier

In the days leading up to the spring time change, try to go to sleep about 15 to 30 minutes earlier than usual to help make the hour's loss of sleep less abrupt. (This tip may be too late for you now, but remember it for next year.)

2. Stick to your schedule

You want to resume your normal sleep schedule as quickly as possible.That means waking up at the time you normally would on a Sunday, and maybe even a little earlier, he said. And maybe limit, or skip, any napping. You want to be so tired Sunday night that you easily fall asleep at your normal bedtime, allowing you to get back on schedule as soon as possible.

3. Avoid stimulants

Avoid resorting to coffee to get yourself up early and alcohol to help you get to sleep. ("Alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle and is not worth it," Avidan said.) Also avoid eating and exercising late on Sunday too. All these stimulants make it harder for you to fall asleep.

4. Seek out the sun

Stepping out into sunlight helps our bodies adjust to the time change. So next week, seek out direct sun exposure as early as possible, he said. You don't need to go to the beach. You can pull back a curtain and sit for a few minutes next to a sun-facing window, or take a walk outside during your coffee break.

5. But avoid too much light

As in, artificial light. Avidan knows this is extreme, but he recommends that people with chronic sleep problems avoid all artificial light — including from TVs, computers and smartphones for two hours before they go to sleep.

6. Change all the clocks

Our cellphones and other devices automatically reflect the time change, which makes it easy to forget that you need to manually do the same for other clocks. It's way too easy to forget to change one key clock — such as the one on the microwave that you eyeball to make sure you're heading out the door in time — and then find yourself completely behind.

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