Time Change - Time to Change Your Sleep Habits

Mar 2, 2020

Time Change - Time to Change Your Sleep Habits

Daylight Savings Time Change happens Sunday, March 8, 2020 at 2:00am.

Most people have a strong dislike for time change, especially the one scheduled for this Sunday morning, where we spring ahead, and you potentially lose an hour of sleep. In fact, there is so much dislike for it, there have been many recent efforts by social media campaigns and even various governments trying to get it cancelled. Studies have shown people get sick, traffic accidents rise, and employees are less productive at work when the time changes.

Sleep is a complex series of stages, some which help your body charge and regenerate. Not properly getting into the various stages of sleep will decrease your body's ability to function at its peak. Ideally you want to get into the REM stages of sleep within 90 minutes after you fall asleep. REM stage sleep is associated with better memory, mood and learning.

The fact is we sleep poorly on a regular basis and a time change just further exposes a very unhealthy problem. Health professionals agree adults need between seven to nine hours of quality sleep consistently. However, an estimated 30 to 40% of North Americans get less than seven hours of sleep. Now that we live in a 24-hour society which includes plenty of shift work and emails being sent around the clock, things are not improving. Here are some suggestions to help you not only more easily transition to daylight savings time, but to also sleep better on a regular basis and feel better doing so.

Make a Game Plan

Plan for the weekend ahead of time. Try to schedule mentally and physically intensive activities toward the beginning of the day. This decreases chemical responses in your body which act to keep you awake. Things like avoiding exercise and even a shower in the evening can create a better sleep experience. In the days leading up to time change, try going to bed a few minutes earlier each night. Attempting to go to sleep an hour before the time change will not agree with your body's internal clock. You might also want to wake up a few minutes earlier each morning. While you may be sacrificing some sleep, it allows your body an adjustment period.

Keep Your Sleep Routines

Your body loves nothing better than routines when it comes to sleep. Post time change and throughout the year, attempt to plan out your days to keep sleep as consistent as possible. Weekends are the most important point of focus, as staying up late and sleeping in is quite confusing to your body's internal clock.

Eat Supper Earlier

Food intake right before bed contributes to poor sleep. Your body requires a fair amount of effort to digest the food in your stomach, especially when you lay horizontal. The brain must focus on digesting food and cannot relax enough to allow you to get to the beneficial REM sleep stage. Stomach acid may also creep into the esophagus, leading to indigestion or heart burn. The fluids being ingested may require you to use the washroom during the night, interrupting sleep. It is also extremely important to avoid caffeine anytime before bed. Some suggest just sticking to caffeine before lunch.

Let there be Light

The body's circadian rhythm is extremely dependent on natural light. With daylight savings time there is additional light later in the day. When your scheduled sleep time approaches, try to limit natural and artificial light. Mornings will also be darker. Try to get as much natural light when it appears. When it's light and bright outside get out there or go beside a window and soak it in. This tells your body it's time to be awake. There are also a wide variety of lamps which imitate natural light and they have been shown to help program circadian rhythm to the hours you need.

Don't Pollute Your Environment & Skip the Screen

A heathy sleep environment is more important than we realize. Sleep is shown to be best in a dark in a cool, comfortable and clutter free bedroom. Make sure your bedroom is not being used as an office, laundry room or play area. Electronics should be removed from the room completely if possible. Artificial light beams everywhere, thanks to cell phones, televisions, tablets and even smart watches. While it may seem harmless to check a late-night hockey highlight or type up a quick pharmacy feature article, you are helping your brain tell your body to be awake and stay awake. Blue light is the worst, so if you must look at a screen, make sure your blue light filter is on.

March also means it's Pharmacist Awareness Month. Keep an eye on our social media for information on contests, events, in store sales and health promotion all throughout the month.


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