Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dont be SAD Sleep Easier when Twilight Comes Sooner

We all need a good night’s sleep. We are not like Edward the vampire from the Twilight series that doesn’t sleep at all. Getting the required amount of sleep can be difficult for some who work the late shift, are flying over multiple time zones or just too stressed from everyday life, but what happens to our body’s natural 24 hour circadian when we turn the clocks back an hour this Sunday? For us living in North America the end of daylight savings time means many more awake hours in darkness and colder weather, which keeps us indoors. Therefore, many will feel depressed, have more sleep disruptions, fight afternoon sleepiness and are just plain weary.

[caption id="attachment_1624" align="alignright" width="297" caption="Don't Forget to Turn your Clock Back this Sunday"][/caption]

Setting your clock back in the fall is easier to tolerate than setting our clocks ahead in spring, because in fall we feel that we get an extra hour of sleep. Also due to twilight coming sooner your melatonin production should kick in making you feel sleepier earlier than normal. What should you do? Take advantage of this extra hour of sleep as most of us need it anyway. If you feel sleepy why fight it and stay up hoping for that second wind. When you do push yourself to stay up then you probably go to bed past your bedtime and cause yet another day sleep deprived.

I know you probably have a power point presentation to do, friends or family to talk to on Facebook or you never go to bed before the nightly news, but did you know the light emitted from your computer or television signals the brain to produce serotonin which keeps us awake! The change in the clock should be based on your normal sleep pattern. If you sleep eight hours every night, then set your clock back before you go to bed at your normal time and this way you gained an hour of sleep. If you don’t want an extra hour of sleep, then don’t set your clock back until you wake up Sunday morning. If you get up at your usual time, then you will have your normal amount of sleep. If you suffer from insomnia or delayed sleep phase syndrome adjusting to an extra hour of sleep could throw your sleep/wake cycle off track, so you shouldn’t change your clock back until the next day.

For most people the time change in fall is not that difficult to adjust to, it’s the long periods of darkness that lead to sleep problems and depression recognized by doctors as seasonal affective disorder or SAD. SAD also known as winter depression or winter blues is defined as a mood disorder in which people who normal feel healthy throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter.

[caption id="attachment_1625" align="alignright" width="187" caption="Use a SAD therapy light and be happy!"][/caption]

The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up. There are many different treatments for classic (winter-based) seasonal affective disorder, including light therapy with sunlight or bright lights, antidepressant medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, ionized-air administration and carefully timed doses of the hormone melatonin. Light therapy which strikes the retina of the eyes is used to treat circadian rhythm disorders such as delayed sleep phase syndrome and can also be used to treat seasonal affective disorder, with some support for its use also with non-seasonal psychiatric disorders. There are many products on the market like: Lightphoria 10,000 lux SAD Light Therapy Pad (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Sunlight Simulator. 2011 model (v2.1) that are used as light therapy for SAD.

So as we shift into the cold, dark season, try to get as much light in the morning and throughout the day as possible. If you experience SAD talk to your doctor about your symptoms, so he can advise you on the best form of treatment. Taking you doctor’s advice and sticking to a consistent bedtime routine which includes getting plenty of sun and daily exercise will relieve your winter blues and help you get a good night’s sleep.

The content provided in Don’t Be Sad Sleep Easier when Twilight Comes Sooner 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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