Springing Ahead Doesn't Mean Falling Back Asleep
Even though we gain an extra hour of daylight, it may disrupt our bodies’ internal clock and become detrimental to our health. The loss of that extra hour sleep can cause fatigue and stress that may lower alertness in people. The time change can also affect the time you need to recharge and recover during sleep. Numerous Americans will now tend to doze off in short segments during the day and become an insomniac during the night. Inadequate sleep also speeds up the aging process dramatically and can foster weight gain and obesity.
Therefore, we have created a few tips to help your body's natural clock adjust to the time change. These tips will help you stay awake, alert and healthy all year long:
Soak up the sun. Bright sun and light exposure can help regulate your body's internal clock and sleep cycle. Sunlight will also help produce melatonin the nighttime hormone that signals the bodies’ bedtime. The sun will help in alertness, act as a natural antidepressant, and sleep supplement. You can also soak up the sun by opening some windows and pushing back the curtains to let the light shine throughout the entire house.
Go to bed when you are tired. If you are not tired, do not force yourself to sleep as this will only cause more stress and sleep anxiety. Before bedtime, try dimming the lights in the house and read a book or listen to calming music. This will relax you and help with restlessness.
Do not exercise right before bed. Even though exercising is important and great for your health, exercising right before bed makes sleeping difficult. The National Sleep Foundation recommends finishing your workout at least three hours before bedtime. This cool down will decrease the body temperature and help initiate sleep.
How much sleep do I need? Not everyone requires the same amount of sleep to have a lot of energy. Find your ideal duration on the weekends and see the difference between when you go to bed and wake up.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol will intervene with sleep habits. If you already have trouble sleeping, avoid alcohol and caffeine for at least six hours before bedtime. Smokers should also avoid tobacco and other stimulants during the nighttime.
Start early. In order to reduce the disruption during the workweek, give yourself some time to adjust on the weekend. Try eating meals, sleeping and waking up on a normal schedule so when Monday comes you will be willing and ready to go.
At Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, we always wish for your good health. Please feel free to call us at 201-392-3100 for any health related concerns.