Ease in to daylight saving time with these tips

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Daylight saving time begins on the second Sunday of March and lasts until November.

Thanks to daylight saving time, life (and our evenings) will be a lot brighter starting on Sunday. But the transition to longer days comes at a cost, and making up the lost hour of sleep can be difficult.

The effects of the time change could last months, and some of the side effects appear to be quite serious, such as an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or irregular heartbeat episodes, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

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“People are more prone to having some types of cardiovascular events because of the change in time,” said Girardin Jean-Louis, director of the Center on Translational Sleep and Circadian Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, AMA reported.

While younger, healthier people may have an easier time adjusting to the shift in the light cycle, older people or those with medical conditions may have “a much, much harder task to try to get back to schedule,” Jean-Louis said.

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This hour may seem like a lot to lose, but these simple tips from the American Heart Association can help you make the adjustment with ease.

Ease into earlier bedtimes and waking times

Days before the time change, start going to sleep and waking up 20 minutes earlier each day, “it’s easier for you to get accustomed to the new clock,” Jean-Louis said.

Get exposure to daylight as soon as possible

Once you’re awake, get outside and soak up some rays. Daylight helps us wake up and prepares our brains for a normal circadian rhythm, which controls our sleeping and waking patterns.

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“You could wake up one hour early and take a walk facing east so that you have exposure to the sun as it rises,” he emphasized.

Lay off the caffeine

Coffee is a great way to boost your energy, but only drink it early in the day.

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“If you’re having coffee at about 3, 4 or 5 p.m., that’s just not good,” Jean-Louis said, “because it can trigger a cascade of dysregulated sleep cycles, which influence your ability to get a good night’s sleep.”

Limit screens

Turn off all screens prior before going to sleep, the blue light is “kind of like being exposed to sunlight late at night,” Dr. Beth Malow, director of the sleep division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, said, according to AMA.

“Try reading a book or do something that doesn’t involve that light. If you absolutely have to be on your computer or phone, use settings that help cut down on the light.”