Saturday, March 12, 2011

How to Sleep Easy on Daylight Savings Time

In 1919 daylight saving time (DST) was established and the world was and still is dealing with DST effects such as heart attacks, suicides, sleep deprivation and general grouchiness. The problem is we are already sleep deprived as we are just barely getting through our daily activities. When DST comes along people can’t cope and losing another hour of sleep can be a shock to our system. How to sleep easy on daylight savings time?

[caption id="attachment_968" align="alignright" width="300" caption="How to Sleep Easy on Daylight Savings Time - Spring Ahead"][/caption]

According to Dr. Adam Mocovitch, if there are no medical issues, he advises a period (an hour) before you go to sleep to relax your mind and body, keep your bedroom free of electronics, your sleep environment should be comfortable, quiet, dark and at the right temperature, establish a sleep routine where you go to bed and get up at the same time every day, workout early in the morning or at least four hours before bedtime, limit or avoid caffeine and don’t eat too much before bed. If you like to have a late night snack consider foods that will cause you to become drowsy like a bowl of cereal or a slice of turkey. Sleep deprivation results in lack of mental focus, causes daytime sleepiness and influences our mood. But studies have found getting less than six hours a night can increase health issues like; diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease and depression.

So, if you are already sleep deprived, daylight savings time can become the catalyst to develop these conditions that is why it is necessary to make the above simple lifestyle changes to get the sleep you need. During sleep our brain, body and nervous system repair, build immunity, store energy and boost our metabolism and sleep deprivation can increase stress hormones and cytokines that increase inflammation, create greater oxidative stress and free radical damage. Elevated cytokines through sleep deprivation causes depression, anxiety, cognitive fog and lack of focus. Stress hormones like cortisol increase the risk of a heart attack and obesity.

If you have trouble sleeping, consider taking an herbal sleep aid like melatonin, this so-called sleep hormone is naturally produced in your pineal gland. Melatonin will decrease as we age, but it is also known that production will not occur until it gets dark and peaks between midnight and 2 a.m. that is why with extended daylight hours the longer it will take our body to get enough melatonin to make us sleepy. Taking an alternative sleep aid like melatonin or a combined herbal supplement that includes other stress reducing/relaxing properties like passionflower, hops, catnip and/or valerian will help you to fall asleep easy. Electronics in your bedroom also affect the production of melatonin that is why it is imperative to keep light producing gadgets in another room. Remember to consult your physician before taking any supplements as they can interfere with prescription medication and other medical conditions.

Other tips; gradually change your bedtime by 20 minutes three nights before DST or take a quick power nap of at least 20 minutes on Sunday afternoon. Get up early on Saturday and Sunday to get the morning light as this will help keep your sleep/wake cycle in check. Recap: On Saturday quit caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime, no alcohol close to bedtime as it decreases slow-wave sleep — the restorative kind you need to wake up feeling refreshed and alert, change your clocks 2-3 hours before, log off your electronics an hour before bed and eliminate light in your bedroom. Sunday soak up the sunshine to stop melatonin production.

[caption id="attachment_969" align="alignright" width="247" caption="How to Sleep Easy on Daylight Savings Time - Internal Sleep/Wake Cycle"][/caption]

How can you help your child make the DST adjustment and reduce sleep deprivation? Maintain their sleep schedule as they naturally adjust to the time difference within a few days to a week. Or make a slow transition starting on Thursday night moving the child’s bedtime by 15 minutes each night and by Sunday night they will be back on their schedule.

Daylight Saving Time marks the end of National Sleep Awareness Week, so it is very important to be aware of the importance of sleep and recognize signs of potential sleep disorders. The content provided in How to Sleep Easy on Daylight Savings Time is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

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