Did you have trouble getting up this morning? Did Sunday’s ‘spring forward’ fail to put a spring in your step? You are not alone. Daylight saving time wreaks havoc on the millions of people because it affects our circadian rhythms, Losing that precious hour doesn’t just cause pain the next day, but temporarily causes or internal body clocks to become out of sync with the day-night cycle.
Approximately 70 million people in the United States are affected by a sleep problem. Sleep disorders cause more than just sleepiness. The lack of quality sleep can have a negative impact on your energy, emotional balance, and health. Sleeping well is essential to your physical health and emotional well-being. Unfortunately, even minimal sleep loss can take a toll on your mood, energy, efficiency, and ability to handle stress. Ignoring sleep problems and disorders can lead to poor health, accidents, impaired job performance, and relationship stress. If you want to feel your best, stay healthy, and perform up to your potential, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury
Dr. Aparajitha Verma, a neurologist with the Sleep Disorders Center at the Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas; recommends that people make sure they are well rested going in to the time change.
“One way to do that is to start changing your hours before the time change. Get up an hour earlier. Retire an hour earlier.”
Great advice but how many of us take it…and of course it’s too little, too late for this year.
To whether, like me, you’re one of the 70 million with a sleep disorder or whether you’re just having trouble adjusting to the time change, here’s some tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Keep a regular sleep schedule, going to sleep and getting up at the same time each day, including the weekends.
- Set aside enough time for sleep. Most people need at least seven to eight hours each night in order to feel good and be productive.
- Sleep in a quiet and dark environment and set the thermostat at a slightly cooler temperature
- Don’t allow pets in the bed
- Turn off your TV, smartphone, iPad, and computer a few hours before your bedtime. The type of light these screens emit can stimulate your brain, suppress the production of melatonin, and interfere with your body’s internal clock.
- No reading, eating or watching TV in bed
- Don’t watch the clock
- Set a “wind down” time prior to going to bed
- Try drinking warms teas or milk to increase your body temperature, which helps induce and sustain sleep
- Exercise is good for sleep, but not within two hours of going to sleep
And remember, while some sleep disorders may require a visit to the doctor, you can improve many sleeping problems on your own. The first step to overcoming a sleep problem is identifying and carefully tracking your symptoms and sleep patterns using a sleep diary.
This can be a useful tool for identifying sleep disorders and sleeping problems and pinpointing both day and nighttime habits that may be contributing to your difficulties. Your sleep diary should include:
- what time you went to bed and woke up
- total sleep hours and perceived quality of your sleep
- a record of time you spent awake and what you did (“stayed in bed with eyes closed,” for example, or “got up, had a glass of milk, and meditated”)
- types and amount of food, liquids, caffeine, or alcohol you consumed before bed, and times of consumption
- your feelings and moods before bed (e.g. happiness, sadness, stress, anxiety)
- any drugs or medications taken, including dose and time of consumption
And if none of that works, just remember we’ll all get that hour back on November 3rd.