Do you get at least 7 hours of sleep per night? According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, one-third of people will answer no to that question. Not getting enough sleep — and the right kind of sleep — has consequences for health. Research studies show that a lack of sleep can contribute to stroke risk, obesity and dementia. Not to mention plain old quality of life.
Add to that the upcoming “spring ahead” (also known as losing an hour of sleep) for Daylight Savings time on Sunday March 13 — and some of us will be in serious sleep deprivation mode. Losing that hour of sleep can make for a difficult Monday morning which usually bleeds in to Tuesday, Wednesday and beyond.
I usually find myself writing about lack of sleep when I am exhausted after Daylight Savings. But this time I am thinking ahead. I don’t know about you but I feel so proud when I do something proactively. Experts say you can help to avoid the effects of losing this hour of sleep by gradually changing your bedtime each night. Go to bed 10 minutes earlier than usual for a couple of nights in a row, then 10 minutes earlier and so on until you are going to be 1 hour earlier than your usual. When the time change comes you will already be adjusted.
But with Daylight Savings, there is more to it than a simple loss of an hour of sleep. Because of the change in the sunlight pattern, the body’s regular circadian rhythms are disrupted, making us feel groggy for a few days. Experts say the way to combat this is with exposure to sunlight early in the morning and avoidance of bright light exposure, even in your home, in the evening.
If you are someone who is regularly not getting enough sleep, now is the time to do something about it. Many of today’s fitness trackers have a sleep tracking option. If you have one-start to use it. The awareness that comes as a result of tracking provides motivation to change.
If you don’t have a fitness tracking device -there are many sleep apps on the market that use the motion sensors in a smart phone to detect the level of your sleep. Not only will they tell you how long you sleep but will wake you at the right point in your sleep cycle so you wake feeling refreshed and not groggy. Keep in mind that these are not substitutes for medical advice, rather general wellness tools.
Other tips for a good night’s sleep include developing a relaxing bed time ritual, avoiding caffeine after noon, and getting enough exercise.
Be Well on Purpose!