As students and teachers mentally prepare to go back to school, ABC13 took a lesson on how to trick your internal clock to getting back into the swing of going to bed early.
Dr. Candice Alfano, a sleep expert from the University of Houston, said the key to a smooth transition is to make simple changes to your daily or nighttime routine, and it all starts with controlling your exposure to light.
"We can draw the curtains, draw the shades, make it as dark as possible in our house. The other thing you can do is you could just wear sunglasses in the home, or if you have to be outside during the evening hours. What it will do is help release the melatonin a little bit earlier," Alfano said.
She also explained how your body releases natural melatonin. It usually begins two hours before bedtime or as the sun is setting, triggering an internal cue that it's time to go to bed. During the summer months, there's more daylight, so we have to manipulate our internal clock.
Blocking blue light is also very important because looking at your devices like your cell phone or iPad will increase your mood. It triggers alertness signaling a potent message to our circadian rhythm that it's time to be awake.
"If you absolutely have to be on your computer and answer these emails or doing something before bed, at least purchase an inexpensive pair of blue light blocking glasses. You can get them at the drug store for maybe $10. They're actually very effective," Dr. Alfano said.
She also suggests showering before bed since it can help your core body temperature drop off for a good night's rest.
"That's why you'll hear people say, 'I take a hot bath before bed,' or 'I take a hot shower,' or 'I like to wear socks on my feet when I get into bed.' Those things basically raise body temperature so that when you get into bed, it's easier for your body temperature to fall off, and you get that kind of natural drop which provides a signal that it's time to sleep," Alfano said.
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