Restoring Your Sleep Pattern after Daylight Savings Time

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Restoring Your Sleep Pattern after Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings has been around for about 100 years. There is no question that the idea behind it was a good one, and that the people who thought of it had great intentions. It was intended to help save energy and maximize daylight, allowing all of us to accomplish the things we needed to do. Work required daylight, and electric lights were still expensive to come by. In order to keep society running, we needed to take advantage of every drop of natural light.

The world is a lot different now than it was then. We all have electric lights, and we know a lot more about sleep patterns and Circadian rhythms. The bottom line is that Daylight Savings is not the best thing for your body – and it can mess up your sleep patterns, making it hard to feel your best.

How Daylight Savings Time Affects Your Body

One reason for the feeling of fatigue and disorientation many of us have as Daylight Savings starts is that our bodies are naturally on a sleep/wake cycle that is a little longer than 24 hours. Biologically speaking, it is easier for us to sleep a little later in the morning than it is for us to go to bed earlier. When we mess around with the clocks, we disrupt that natural inclination. Our bodies react accordingly.

There is evidence to back up the idea that Daylight Savings isn’t the best thing for your body. For example, did you know that the rate of things like heart attacks and car accidents increases after the switch to Daylight Savings? A recent study showed that workplace accidents increase, on average, by 6% the Monday after we spring ahead. That is not a small increase. Clearly the process of switching the time and expecting our bodies to adjust to it is a difficult one. The time change may happen overnight – but it takes our bodies longer than a single night to cope with the time difference.

But what can we do about it? It is not like any one of us has the power to change the calendar or force the world to go back to the way things used to be. The good news is that there are two super simple things you can do to boost your energy and ease the transition into Daylight Savings…

#1: Eat Carbs Before Bed

I know there are a lot of people out there who will tell you not to eat carbs at night – that doing it will make you gain weight. The truth is that carbs get a raw deal. They’re not bad for you when eaten in the proper amounts, and at the right times. Your body needs them to recuperate after heavy mental or physical exertion.

Eating carbs before bed actually shortens the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. If you are a person who tosses and turns in bed, eating carbs is a good way to improve sleep. Why? Because carbs trigger a chain reaction in your body that leads to the production of tryptophan – that’s right, the same chemical that makes you feel so sleepy after eating a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. Tryptophan is an essential ingredient in the production of serotonin, a hormone that helps you get to sleep.

When you eat a carb-rich meal, your blood sugar goes up, giving you a temporary sugar high. After a short period of time – assuming you eat the right kind of carbs – your blood sugar dips, naturally giving your body a drowsy feeling. Eating a bunch of refined sugar is not going to help, but if you stick to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you will be in good shape.

To get the sleep benefits of carbs, eat a meal that includes about ¼ gram of carbs per pound of body weight at about 5:00 or 6:00. (That translates to 40 grams of carbs if you weigh 160 pounds.) That gives your body plenty of time to cycle through digesting the carbs, and processing the glucose in your blood so the levels can drop again. By the time bedtime rolls around, you will be drowsy and ready to get a good night’s sleep.

#2: Take a Warm Bath or Shower

You have probably noticed that if you fall asleep on the sofa, you sometimes wake up feeling chilly –even if the temperature in the room has not changed. The reason for that is that your body’s temperature naturally drops a few degrees when you are sleepy, and that triggers the release of melatonin, an important hormone for sleep.

When you take a warm shower or bath, your body’s core temperature goes up one or two degrees. That might sound like the opposite of what you want, but the key is what happens afterward. You get out of the bath, and very quickly, your body temperature drops again. The drop triggers the release of melatonin, and that signals your body and brain that it is time to go to sleep.

Another benefit of heating up your body by taking a bath or shower is that the heat naturally redirects some of the blood from your brain to the rest of your body. The drop in brain energy and activity sends a signal that it is time to wind down for the night.

If you want to fall asleep easily, try taking a warm shower or bath about an hour before you want to go to bed. You will start your body on a natural cycle toward sleep, and when you get into bed, you will be ready to doze off naturally. After a good night’s sleep, you will feel refreshed and rested in the morning.

There is no question that the switch to Daylight Savings Time can be hard to deal with. You don’t want to spend days feeling sluggish and tired, but if you don’t take action to help your body adjust, then that’s exactly what will happen. The suggestions here will help your body make the transition in the shortest time possible.

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