How are you enjoying your extra hour of daylight? Are you still adjusting to Daylight Saving Time? Most people are probably in sync with their new sleep schedules and are enjoying more fun in the sun, but others aren’t so lucky.
Since DST began in 1918 to help with the war effort, the yearly change has caused more than a few missed church services or Sunday morning brunch dates. While this is certainly an inconvenience, a shift in our sleep schedule could have more far-reaching effects. Experts on circadian rhythms tell us that some people’s health suffers
, especially those with certain pre-existing health conditions.
Circadian rhythms are behavioral, physical, and mental changes controlled by the brain that cycle through a 24-hour period. Light and darkness control these changes.
While most people can easily adjust their body clock there are some groups of people with cardiac problems or depression
that are at a higher risk of suicide and heart attack once DST occurs.
In 2008 an Australian study found that the first few weeks of daylight saving time saw a higher incident of suicide when compared with any other time during the year. Another study showed that the number of serious heart attacks increased 6% to 10% on the first three workdays following the change.
Those with pre-existing health problems experience more problems when their body clock is disrupted. No one knows for certain why this is true, but it could be that disruptions such as this and biological rhythms trigger harmful metabolic changes in the body’s cells. Individuals who suffer depression or heart problems could possibly be more susceptible to this.
The CDC tells us 70 million Americans don’t get enough sleep whether daylight saving time is in session or not. Research has proven time and time again that a chronic lack of sleep simply isn’t good for your health.
So if you find yourself still exhausted because of daylight saving time here are a few tips that can help you get good restful sleep.1. Keep a regular bedtime schedule even on the weekends.
Our circadian clock regulates our sleep. When you wake at a regular time in the morning this strengthens the circadian function and can help you fall asleep more easily at night. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain a regular bedtime and wake time even when you’re tempted to sleep in on the weekends.2. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
You need to get away from bright lights and any activity that can cause stress, excitement, or anxiety. Avoid stimulating activities right before bedtime like paying bills, working, playing competitive games or problem solving. There is some research that suggests that taking a hot bath before going to bed can help you transition into deeper sleep more easily. Finally, stay away from bright lights
before bedtime. The light will signal your brain that its time to be awake, not asleep.3. Your bedroom should be for sleeping and sex - nothing more.
While it may be tempting to watch the late night show before turning in or do a little work on your computer, an entertainment/working environment isn’t conducive to good sleep. Your bed should only be used for sleeping and sex.
While throughout history health concerns have put daylight saving time in the hot seat, more than likely it’s here to stay. So make the best of the situation and just enjoy the extra hour of daylight. Go outside and play in the sunshine!