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Any sleeping beauties out there this morning?
Springing forward has us groggy-eyed and grumpy. We’ve been robbed an hour of sleep, a time shift that messes up our internal clocks and sleep schedule, and our microwave and car clocks too!
And there’s real dark side to the one-hour time change – it’s bad for your brain and health, says Dr. Joseph Takahashi, neurologist and world’s leading expert on biological clocks. “We lose our ability to regulate our blood sugar. We feel hungry when we’re not really hungry. Our immune systems function less efficiently, and cancer rates increase.
“This twice-a-year desynchronization of our body clocks has been linked to increased health risks such as depression, obesity, heart attack, and even car accidents,” blogs Takahashi. Add in difficulties with learning, social interactions, and overall cognitive function.
The negative effects can last weeks, so he’s all for abolishing the time switch and remaining permanently on standard time (what we just came out of). The clock reset is a contentious issue around the world, with the debate sparking major support for permanent daylight saving time (DST) too, including Ontario’s Time Amendment Act.
Regardless, here we are again, sleep deprived! Hopefully by World Sleep Day on Friday, March 18, things will be better in the bedroom.
To help with this week’s transition, “try to go to sleep one hour earlier than before the switch, that is, go to sleep at your normal ‘clock’ time even if you are not sleepy because your circadian clock is on standard time,” recommends Takahashi to Sun Media readers.
“Start today out right with a protein-rich breakfast and if you need it, an extra cup of coffee or tea,” says Dr. Michael Breus, at thesleepdoctor.com. Drink 15 oz. of water before this morning’s coffee, and quit the caffeine after 2 p.m.
Get outside this morning – this stops the production of melatonin and reduces that groggy, tired feeling – and get moving today! “Meet up with some friends and go for a walk, run, bike, swim, whatever,” says Breus. “Movement helps keep you energized, and community helps you from getting down about being so tired.”
And if sleep disruption is compounded by nighttime worries, start keeping a worry journal, says Breus. “It’s a place to write down all the things that are preoccupying your mind and causing you anxiety or stress. The practice of keeping a worry journal allows you to take your worries from your mind to the written page, helping you to relax.”
Sleep space innovator Aaron Spivak sets his worries aside with a power-down hour before bedtime that includes shutting out all light pollution – TV, electronic devices and any blue light – and planning the next day out in a notepad.
The Hush co-founder uses pen to paper to break things down and list his next day’s to-dos. The journaling helps his body and brain relax, and lower his anxiety.
“People are feeling anxious, and the pandemic has only made it so much worse,” and it’s keeping people up, tossing and turning, he says. Now there are war worries, and it’s all so exhausting.
“Nothing good comes from being exhausted,” says Spivak, who is a big believer in weighted blankets, which are linked to reducing stress hormones and increase happy hormones.
Good sleep is essential for good health, says Spivak, a former semi-pro hockey player turned entrepreneur, who sticks to a regular sleep schedule to diminish the time change effects. He limits caffeine intake, gets outside daily, and gets in exercise earlier in the day.
Caffeine has been shown to reduce total sleep time by up to 41 minutes when consumed within six hours of bedtime, adds Breus. And no exercise four hours before bed so it will not disrupt your sleep.
Are you a sweaty sleeper? Well, your sheets are likely the perfect breeding ground for dust mites and bacteria. Yuck! Consider switching to antibacterial cooling sheets, suggests Aaron Spivak, whose Canadian Hush brand provides hot sleepers with organic bedding that’s temperature regulating and sweat wicking.
What you sleep on affects how you sleep – we spend a third of our lives in bed so sheets, pillows and mattress matter. Spivak recommends replacing your pillow every six months, and mattress every five to 10 years.
The latest sleep innovation features cooling technology, ideal to keep hot sleepers cool and cool sleepers cozy. A cooling mattress can help mediate the body’s temperature – “we’ve put 1.5 years of research and development into our mattress and it’s handmade in Toronto and Calgary,” says Spivak.
Sleep planner Christina Bergman Ribel, of thesleepplan.org, advises “hot” sleepers to set the room temperature around 68-70°F. “Take a short, cold shower before bedtime to help bring your body temperature down. Keep a glass of cold water on your bedside table and sleep naked if possible.”
Invest in a comfortable, breathable mattress, advises Ribel, adding “some people find that cooling sheets with natural fibres helps them bring their body temperature down, and more importantly to stay cool throughout the night.”
Eat for better sleep with tips from Baby’s Best Sleep founder Amanda Jewson:
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