Posts Tagged ‘circadian rhythms’
Daylight Savings Time is nearly here again. Almost all of North America (with the notably sane exceptions of Arizona and Hawaii) will synchronistically change the time on their clocks in the wee hours of next Sunday morning.
Spring Forward! It has such a perky, positive, up-beat sound to it, doesn’t it? Let’s just leap together into the future, bright eyed and bushy tailed! But wait… in order to “spring forward” we must lose an hour of sleep. How can that be? How will that work? Who thought THAT one up???
Sleep is one-third of our lives. When it doesn’t work well the other 2/3rds are likely to suffer. Poor sleep has been tied to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, cancer, depression, car crashes and industrial accidents. Healthy sleep is dependent on a healthy circadian rhythm system and suddenly, arbitrarily changing the clock overnight is definitely a shock to that system.
As a seasoned Sleep Specialist I cringe at the idea of an artificially induced jet lag syndrome being forced upon an entire national population. The symptoms of jet lag include headache, digestive upset, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, muscle aches and insomnia. If the majority of the citizens of a country came down with these symptoms all at once, a major epidemic would be declared and most everything would grind to a halt in the crisis. But we are expected to get up and go to work on Monday as if nothing has happened.
Statistics show there are 8% more car accidents on the Monday following the time change than on the Mondays immediately before or after. Suicides and heart attacks are more frequent in the few days after the Spring change as well. And while the original purpose of Daylight Savings Time was to increase productivity in the workplace, business reports indicate there is less getting done on the Monday after the change, pointing to the increase in personal web surfing and “cyber-loafing” on that day.
So what can we as individuals do (aside from moving to Arizona or Hawaii) to survive the Spring Forward with a minimal amount flack and fatigue? Here are some tips I’ve shared with my sleep coaching clients:
1.) Beat the Rush
Start adjusting your own internal body clock bit by bit in the few days before the time change. Eat your dinner and go to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual on Wednesday night. Then 15 minutes earlier than that on Thursday night, and so on. By Sunday your body has started to shift its rhythms enough that when the time actually changes (and you go back to eating and sleeping at the same “clock time” as you used to) you’ll hardly skip a beat.
2.) See the Light
Light, especially sunlight, exerts the biggest influence on our circadian rhythms. So spend a lot of time outdoors on Sunday after the time change to help reinforce the rhythms of day and night on your body. Likewise, when the sun goes down, let that dimness be reflected in your indoor environment too. Keep the lights low, the electronic screens off and think about spending some time actually in the dark! Your sleep patterns will thank you.
3.) Drink the Water
Keep hydrated. Good advice at any time, but dehydration will only enhance any time warp symptoms you may experience and make you ever more miserable. Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol, though as these can further confuse your body clock and exacerbate any sleep disturbances.
4.) Take the Day Off
So, if there are more sleepy, sick and suicidal people on the freeway and there’s not much getting done at the office anyway, why risk the commute? Might as well take the “Monday After” off from work and get some more outdoor exercise with proper hydration topped off with a quiet evening of star-gazing on the dark back porch! By Tuesday you should be well on your way to newly minted circadian rhythms and able cope with the change.
I hope these tips serve you well.
I’d love to hear your ideas, too! Please post them in the comment section and share this article with your friends to hear about their ways of coping.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep!
All life on Earth is determined, directed or defined by rhythms. Many are obvious, such as day and night, the flow of seasons and birth, growth, aging on to death. We see these play out over and over all around us, but we often forget that we, too, are a part of it all.
Caught up as we are in our electronically choreographed schedules in artificially lit rooms and thermostatically controlled airflow, it is easy to lose track of the subtle, yet relentless rhythm that tries to keep us in balance with the rest of the universal life force.
Our bodies, just like those of the birds and the bees, the bass, bison and birch are designed to function in rhythms. As far as sleep is concerned, the most important rhythms are the circadian rhythms. Circ-dia means “about a day”. These rhythms repeat every 24 hours and are generally driven by or in line with the tides of light. We are programmed to sleep when it becomes dark and cool. For nocturnal animals these same changes signal waking and activity.
Our body chemistry changes with the setting of the sun and many important physiologic functions are dependent upon or at least most efficient in darkness and in sleep. Among these functions are tissue repair, hormonal rebalancing, immune modulation and memory fixing. When we try to force our bodies to work against these pre-programmed rhythms we are fighting against nothing less formidable than Mother Nature herself. When we recognize, respect and align ourselves with the rhythms of nature we recruit this same powerful source as an ally.
If you are having trouble sleeping at night or maintaining your energy through the day you may have lost touch with your internal rhythms. Instead of reaching for counterfeit energy in a can of cola or sugary snack try tuning into what’s going on outside. Get out into the yard, a park or a meadow. Smell real air, feel breezes, even rain. At dusk when the natural light dims, dim your lights too. As the activity outdoors slows, so should you. Open your windows to remember how much it cools down at night. To sleep well you need to cool down as well.
Try spending some time in the dark awake, just being still. When was the last time you turned out all the lights when you weren’t going to sleep? If you can sit outside in the dark you may be able to enjoy the stars and let your imagination open up as your active day drops away. Why should dreaming have to wait for sleep?
These simple steps to bring some awareness back to the natural flow of you within the you-niverse can be giant strides toward deep, peaceful sleep and positive productive days.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
I didn’t write this. I just laughed when I read it. I think it is a wonderful (though biased) description of the differences between l arks and owls. Science has now informed us that there is truly a genetic difference. Apparently 30% of us are really truly morning people or quite definitely darkly night folks. The rest of us are “hummingbirds” (?) That may be another post… For now, I have to agree with Duncan –
I Don’t Do Mornings
by Duncan Kelly
Some people are morning people. They get up before the sun rises and they go for a run around the local golf course, scaring the bird trying to get the first worm. They get back home for breakfast and have a shower. Then they catch up on all their letter writing and birthday cards. After making a few calls and concluding a few deals, they toddle off to work, arriving 20 minutes early.
I don’t do mornings. The alarm clock is like the sword of damacles hanging over my slumber. It’s strident clamour heralds the death of my dreams and the destruction of the land of Nod. I hit the sleep button and scrape another few minutes of sleep from the desolation of another workday. The inevitable moment arrives: if I delay one more minute I will be seriously, noticeably, late for work. After chucking on some mismatching clothes, (because my eyes are still stuck shut with sleep) I stumble off to work, eventually waking up about an hour after getting there.
Morning people don’t believe in the existence of non-morning people. They think we are either mad or lazy liars. But go and pick up a morning person for a call out at 7pm and then the boot is on the other foot. They yawn expansively as they get in the car, they mutter incoherent sentences, and only your terrible driving keeps them from sleeping for the remainder of the 3 hour trip. They look at you in awe as you drive on through the night, and cannot believe that your are still wide awake and alert at 2 in the morning. they think you are some kind of freak, but they are impressed none the less.
Yup, we night people can keep going as long as we have to. We don’t do mornings, but we do do nights. Moring people doodoo nights! When the world is sleeping, we go on working, quietly acheiving and prevailing where others would fall down and sleep. We are the epitome of the long life battery, as we keep on keeping on through long nights.
Night people are often unseen, like the long haul train driver, the night flight airline pilot, the technician on a call out, the night watchman. But don’t ask us to get up early. That is being cruel. Our bodies are not designed for early morning activity. A morning run would kill us, and doing anything financial before 9am would be a fast road to bankruptcy. Writing a birthday card would lose a friend and create an enemy!
So if you’re a morning person, spare a thought for your yawning colleague. He’s not lazy. He’s not crazy. He’s just not in the right time zone.Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1454196
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Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Duncan_Kelly
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1454196
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,