Wednesday, March 8, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY: DAYLIGHT SAVINGS

On Sunday, March 12 at 2 a.m., clocks move forward by one hour. We will lose an hour of sleep initially from Saturday night into Sunday morning, but the sun will rise later and daylight will extend into our evenings.

Daylight savings time (DST) was initially introduced to cut energy costs – if work hours were during the daylight, people would save money (on candle wax originally), and later on, electricity. DST was phased out but re-introduced during the Second World War.

Canada, Saskatchewan, parts of B.C. and Ontario and Quebec’s north shore don’t follow the time change. In the United States Arizona and Hawaii don’t observe daylight savings time. Other countries - China, India, Japan, parts of Australia and Africa (and several other nations) don’t follow DST.

The main purpose of Daylight Saving Time is to make better use of daylight. We change our clocks to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. When evenings are lighter longer our roads are brighter during the drive home (although there is evidence of significant increases in accident rates on the Monday following daylight-saving time).

DST change can bring problems with (1) sleeping, (2) your metabolism takes a hit, along with your eating routine. You could be encountering more cravings for junk food or even a loss of appetite. Sleep specialist, say that sleep is just as valuable as a healthy diet, drinking less alcohol or exercising. Sleep regulates our appetites because it balances out hormones. As a sleep deprived nation, losing an hour of sleep can make a difficult struggle even worse.

Loss of sleep can affect performance, concentration, and memory the same as fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing substance - melatonin. It is important to expose yourself to the light during the waking hours as much as possible, and not expose yourself to bright light when it is dark outside.

Sleep hygiene is important to create sleep-friendly environments and enhance your chances of falling asleep, staying asleep, and sleeping soundly. Basic sleep hygiene includes reducing or eliminating caffeine and alcohol, exercising several hours before bedtime, creating calming rituals before bed to gradually relax yourself and wearing ear plugs and eye masks. It is also important to go to bed and rise at the same time every day. There is no evidence that diet will actually influence your circadian rhythm however, carbohydrates tend to make it easier to fall sleep.

So try to prepare for the change. Make the time change incrementally beforehand.
  1. Wake up 15 minutes early every day for 4 days before Sunday.
  2. Get some vigorous exercise midday Saturday. Exercise advances the body clock, just like bright light exposure.
  3. On Sunday, get up at your regular time –don't sleep in. Spend an hour outside in the sunshine.
If sleep continues to be a problem, reach out to your Provider for advice.  
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