Did you "spring forward"? And now feel behind?
So Sunday was ‘daylights savings time’ in most places in the US and many places around the globe. In simple terms, we ‘lose’ an hour of sleep. “So what’s the big deal?”, you may ask. We sometimes go to bed a little too late and we’re able to function with a little extra coffee the next day, right?
I’m glad you asked! (And I apologize, this post is somewhat delayed…even I was thrown off a bit by the time change and weekend travels).
What happens to our body and our circadian rhythm during a time change? Our body is designed to sleep and be awake according to the ‘circadian clock’; the cycle of the 24 hour period that is defined by daylight and darkness. Our circadian rhythms are our physical, mental, and behavioral changes that occur during the daily cycle and are most influenced by the light and darkness in our environment.
Like the other patterns, behaviors and habits in our life, our sleep patterns profoundly impact our well-being. There’s abundant research that points to sleep as being one of the most critical ingredients for good health.
When we set the clocks forward (and lose that precious hour), our melatonin production (the hormone that regulates our body’s sleep cycle) and our cortisol levels (our stress hormones) are disrupted in such a way that our sleep cycles, our ability to think clearly, hunger regulations and even susceptibility to depression are increased. Not to set off alarms, but there is also evidence of increases in heart attacks and strokes during the 2 weeks following the transition.
So if you are finding yourself struggling to adjust to the time change, here are some tips to help you settle back into a pattern of sleep that will support your lifestyle, well-being and vitality.
1) Avoid electronics. The ‘blue light’ of electronics tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime. Plan to turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before you plan to be in bed. If you read off of a tablet or Kindle, install a blue light filter to the device and reduce the brightness of your screen.
2) Avoid caffeine in the evening. Many people’s sleep patterns are adversely affected by caffeine. Reducing or even eliminating caffeinated beverages in the evening can help your body adjust to new sleep patterns, as well as give you a better quality of sleep in general.
3) Ease into the change. Set yourself up to go to sleep earlier. Getting between the sheets even 15 minutes earlier each night during the next few weeks can help your body and mind adjust to the shift in daylight hours.
4) Regulate your bedtime schedule. Keeping the same (or close to the same) sleep schedule each day, including weekends, can ensure a better night’s sleep overall and an easier adjustment to the time change in the weeks that follow.
And next time you ‘fall back’ or ‘spring forward’ plan to do ALL of this several days (even a week) in advance of the time change…your body, mind and spirt will be glad you did!
Would love to hear your comments and feel free to share any additional tips you have that work best for you!
Wishing you wellness,