SPRINGFIELD – It’s almost that time of year again – when we all move our clocks forward and lose an hour of sleep. Oddly enough, springing forward does little to add any extra spring into our step and instead leaves many feeling sluggish and struggling to adjust for weeks.
“An extra hour of daylight does allow for more time after work or after school, when you can squeeze in more family activities, exercise, etc. However, most people don’t properly prepare for the change,” explained Dr. Shakeel Bahadur, a pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist with Mercy Health – Springfield. “As a result, the change induces more sleep deprivation on a society that already suffers from chronic insufficient sleep. So instead of taking advantage of the benefits, we’re left feeling fatigued, unable to concentrate, and being less productive overall.”
Perhaps that’s why March is also National Sleep Awareness Month, an opportunity to examine our sleep habits and search for ways to improve the quantity as well as quality of rest we get. On average, you should aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
“Think of your sleep like charging your cell phone. If you don’t do it enough, it stops working.”
Maintaining a regular schedule is key, which is why Daylight Saving Time can be such a disruptor. The best way to mitigate those effects is to prepare for the change a few days before it starts. Ideally, that should start three to four days ahead by shifting your bedtime and wake time by 15 to 20 minutes per day. This means adjusting other daily evening routines to accommodate that.
Your sleep routine isn’t just about timing. It’s also about making sure you have the right environment to encourage a good night’s rest.
“A dark, quiet, cool room is the best for sleep. If you need noise, find an audio-only source to play in the background. Television audio often changes in volume and quality, and the light from the screen can be disruptive,” said Dr. Bahadur.
Blue light technology can suppress the body’s automatic rise in melatonin that helps us feel drowsy and fall asleep, so it’s best to avoid all electronics especially in the last 2 hours before bedtime. Your diet can also be important. Avoid alcohol and caffeine right before bed, and if you decide on a late-night snack, try to avoid spicy or fatty foods that could keep you up with heartburn.
If you’re still struggling to get enough sleep a few weeks past the time change or feel like a lack of sleep is disrupting your daily routine despite maintaining good sleep habits, it may be time to be evaluated further. Learn more about the sleep medicine services we offer at mercy.com.
Info from Mercy Health
Info from Mercy Health