Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Sleep’

daylight saving blues copy

If you’re still feeling knackered from the time change with daylight saving  you’re not alone. Changing the time throws a kink in the fragile and sensitive human biological clock, leaving many people feeling continuously jet lagged for a few weeks.

An hour of lost sleep might not sound like a big deal, but if you or your friends and coworkers are any indication, it makes for some groggy and grumpy days, bouts of insomnia, and feeling generally off.

It’s not just a hunch — scientific studies have demonstrated various ways in which the bi-annual time change messes with our health.

The body has genes that flip on and off to keep us in a steady rhythm of sleeping and waking. When we throw those genes off beat by artificially changing the time, the effect extends into the rest of the body, including muscles, the skeleton, the pancreas, etc. The disruption is felt body-wide.

How daylight saving time can impact health

This disruption dulls the brain and throws the body’s systems off, resulting in serious and even fatal consequences for some people.

For instance, past studies have shown driving fatalities, workplace injuries, and heart attacks go up after the spring-forward change in time. An Australian study found that even suicides increase after the time change.

Unsurprisingly, work productivity goes down as well, causing losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Night owls, people who naturally are more inclined to stay up late and sleep later in the morning take the longest to recover.

Worst of all, some studies suggest our bodies never really adjust to time changes. We’re designed to sync with natural changes in light throughout the year, not artificially inflicted ones.

How to recover from daylight saving time

Although people complain and we see a spate of news stories every spring bemoaning the change in time, we’re nevertheless stuck with it until politicians add it to their to-do list.

Understanding the effect of the time change on your body can help you better know how to ease the transition into suddenly waking up an hour earlier.

Avoid overdoing it for a while. Because you know your whole body is struggling to adjust to being thrown out of whack, don’t expect too much from yourself. Avoid scheduling high-risk or energy demanding activities the week after the time change. And be extra careful driving.

Schedule in some naps and restful mornings. If you’re like most people, you’ll be sleep-deprived for a week or two. Take a lunch nap in your car at work, let yourself rest on a weekend morning, and be extra disciplined about getting to bed early enough.

Wear orange glasses at night. Wear some orange safety glasses a couple of hours before bed to shield your eyes from artificial blue light from light bulbs, the TV, and computer and phone screens. This facilitates production of sleep hormones and will help ease you into the new schedule.

Get some sunshine during the day. Our bodies were designed to wake and sleep according to the light of the seasons, not an industrialized schedule. Get as much natural light as you can during the day and avoid artificial sources of blue light (computer, TV, smart phones) in the evening.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

DST health impacts

Do you curse every spring when we have to move the clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time (DST)? Does it take you weeks to recover? You’re not alone. Studies show DST is hard on our health and dangerous to boot, making it an outdated relic that adds stress to an already over-stressed society.

DST doesn’t just make people tired in the morning. Studies show the number of car accidents increases after DST, likely due to tired drivers. A Swedish study also found that the risk of heart attacks goes up the first few days after DST, and that risk drops after setting the time back to Standard Time. An Australian study showed an increase in suicides the first few weeks after DST goes into effect.

Some people aren’t ruffled by the change in time, others recover in a few days, and then there are those for whom DST means a few weeks of feeling out of whack while their body adjusts. In fact, one study showed our bodies never fully adjust to DST until we switch back to Standard Time. Night owls are affected the worst, taking as long as three weeks to recover. Research has shown on their days off, people revert to sleeping and waking according to what’s seasonally appropriate, not what DST dictates.

We are designed to gradually adjust to the changes in light as the seasons change. Forcing this change overnight once a year flies in the face of our internal clocks, which are tuned into nature.

This is because light dictates how much of the sleep hormone melatonin we make. The more light we are exposed to the less melatonin we make so that we are awake longer.

The sudden disruption to our internal clocks with the time change and loss of sleep causes a loss in production, concentration, and memory, as well as fatigue and sleepiness during the day.

DST bad for business as well as health

Enacted during World War I to decrease energy costs, DST has now been shown to actually increase energy demands, due largely to more air conditioner use and more driving time to daylight activities. Also, contrary to popular belief, it does not benefit farmers; they actually oppose it. Dairy farmers in particular say cows do not easily adapt to the change in schedule. Orthodox religions don’t like their sunrise and sunset prayer tinkered with. However, the golf, barbecue, and retail industries love it.

Broader research has shown DST costs the economy anywhere from $400 million to $2 billion due to loss of productivity, workplace injury, and “cyber loafing.”

How to cope with Daylight Saving Time

If DST is wrecking you those first few weeks, you can do a few things to help ease the transition (in addition to signing an online petition to end DST):

Lay low until you adjust. Honor the disruption to your natural rhythms and take it easy by avoiding taking on extra activities or added stressors until you feel back to normal. Also, avoid dangerous activities.

Add in extra time to rest and nap. The biggest cost of DST is sleep loss, especially if you are a night owl. It is difficult to go to bed and wake up an hour earlier. Make time for a nap or at least some time to lie down and rest during the day those first few weeks.

Block blue light at night to help you adjust. Wearing orange glasses in the evening a couple of hours before bed will also help increase the production of sleep hormones so you can fall asleep. Exposure to sunlight during the day will also help regulate sleep hormones. You can use a light box in the mornings to help you wake up.

Ask my office for advice on helping you sleep better.

Read Full Post »

427 teens need more sleep copy

Teens burn through life because, well, they can, and research shows two out of three teens are severely sleep deprived. But what teens and the adults in their lives don’t realize is that sleep deprivation raises the risk of car accidents and driving fatalities (driving sleepy is as bad as driving drunk), obesity, diabetes, depression, risk-taking behavior, and suicidal ideation. It also raises the risk of the very adult diseases of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Studies show sleep deprivation also impairs judgment, impulse control, and good decision making, areas where teens are already compromised due to incomplete brain development. Lack of sleep hinders proper development of these skills.

Teenagers need at least 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night and research shows only a small minority meet that requirement. The rest are short changing themselves by two or more hours a night, a significant loss to a body and brain that are still developing and need that precious downtime to rest, regenerate, and grow.

Lack of sleep not only raises health risks but it also robs teens of cognition, good mood, optimal well-being, and even safety. One study showed that the driving accident rate among teens was 41 percent higher in a school that started at 7:20 a.m. than a nearby school district where classes began at 8:40.

Later school starts, which allow for more sleep, have also been shown to improve student test scores and grade point averages; researchers also noted that well rested students were able to finish their homework faster.

Sleep deprivation in teens has been linked to a threefold increase in suicide attempts as well, and depression goes up with sleep loss. Another startling finding showed that for each hour of sleep lost, the odds of obesity goes up 80 percent.

Not only do teenagers need more sleep than adults, their internal sleep-wake cycle shifts by as much as two hours after puberty, making it harder for them to fall asleep early. A teenager who manages to fall asleep by 11 p.m. — already a long shot — should not be getting up until 8 a.m. It’s no wonder so many teachers say their students are “useless” during morning classes. Adding to the problem is that many teens are overscheduled, with sports, dance, jobs, and other activities running late into the night before homework has even started.

Another impediment to sleep, and one that parents didn’t have to grapple with when they were teens, is the intrusion of smart phones and other screens. Texting and social media compel teens to keep each other up, as can video games and favorite shows on tablets and TVs. Not only do these devices distract teens from getting to bed on time, the blue light emitted from such screens suppresses melatonin, the sleep hormone. An electronics curfew each night can help teens get more sleep.

Teens typically spend the weekends getting caught up on sleep, which, unfortunately, throws their internal clocks out of whack and can promote a jet lag state that makes for brutal Monday mornings.

Ask my office about nutritional and dietary support that can help bolster your and your teen’s attempts to get enough sleep.

Read Full Post »

no sleep vs sleep

Is this warm weather keeping you up at night? Are you getting your 8 hours of solid sleep? About 40 million Americans deal with some sort of sleep problem, that probably includes some of you. When you do not get a full night’s restful sleep, your awake state is greatly affected. Sleep is an essential tool in repairing and revitalizing your body. Without repair you are more likely to develop chronic disease and when you aren’t refreshed you are more likely to make bad food choices, leading to possible obesity. Overall when you are tired, you are not going to move your life forward, and over a period of time you may start feeling dissatisfied with life. If there was only one thing about your lifestyle to change it would be your sleeping habits.

Here are some of the reasons why you might not be sleeping well:

–          You didn’t give yourself enough time to sleep

–          You need better sleeping arrangements

–          The pain in your body is keeping you awake

–          You have too many unresolved problems

–          You sleep with someone (or a pet) who keeps you awake

–          You had either sweets, alcohol, or caffeine too close to bedtime

–          Your blood sugar isn’t stable!

There are probably other reasons, but these are the ones I often hear in the clinic.

I know it seems like there just aren’t enough hours in a day, but I can’t tell you enough how important it is to honor your body and give it the rest it deserves. If you have too many tasks to take care of, don’t sacrifice your sleep to get them done. Soliciting help and delegating, or lowering your standards will not wreak havoc on your health, but lack of sleep will.

The bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleep and sex. Watching tv might help you relax, but keep it out of the bedroom. Keeping your bedroom clean and uncluttered, cool, dark and electronic free is key to helping you to get a better night’s sleep.

Some pain only shows up at night, because lying still decreases circulation. Take the time before bed to treat tight muscles with heat. and treat sore spots (such as bursitis) with ice to make your night more enjoyable. If that isn’t enough, make an appointment to come in and get a massage or an acupuncture treatment to get you back on track.

If you’re up at night thinking about all your problems, you might as well get up, start writing them down and figure out your action steps to solve the issues. At bedtime when all the distractions fade into the night, but the chatter in your head doesn’t let you get away from your problems, take 20 minutes to try to understand what’s keeping you awake and what you should do about it in the morning, then head back to your pillow. I guarantee you will have a better night’s sleep.

If you can’t sleep because your partner snores, or your pet wakes you up, do something about it! Sleep in another room for awhile, and put your pet outside of your room (and away from your ear’s reach). It is more important to get the rest, than to sleep together.

Sugar, alcohol and caffeine can stay in your body for quite a while. I recommend not consuming any of the above after 3:00 pm to be on the safe side. If you are like me, don’t consume any! Not only does it keep me awake, it will give me crazy dreams. This brings me to the last item: blood sugar! In short when our body’s energy dips too low it will wake us up (seemingly for no reason). The simple solution to keeping your blood sugar stable is avoid sugars (and anything that turns into sugar), and to consume enough protein and good fats (a few nuts can do the trick).

Sleep well everyone!

Read Full Post »