Daylight Savings Time Doesn't Have to Destroy your Sleep Cycles
Jessica Wilhelm, BS, CN - Mar 10, 2018
We all look forward to the days where the sunlight lasts a little longer and the weather is warmer, but with the pros, there are a few cons, including losing sleep during Daylight Savings Time. When our clocks spring forward, we will get one hour less of shut-eye and be faced with a higher temptation to hit the snooze button for the next couple of days as our bodies adjust to the time change.
Taking a proactive approach by following the tips below can help you ease into a new, restful routine.
Work Hard, But Remember to Relax
If you exercise in the evening, try to get your workout in at least three hours before your bedtime. Exercise increases the release of neurotransmitters such as endorphins, norepinephrine and dopamine that have stimulating effects in the body and brain.
This means your body needs ample time to relax from activity in order to allow calming neurotransmitters (serotonin and GABA) to balance out of the release of stimulating neurotransmitters. By giving your body time to relax, you can prepare yourself for a restful sleep cycle.
Avoid Unnecessary Stimulants
The body is naturally inclined to rise with the sun and rest when it becomes dark, however, with our increased exposure to technology, resources available 24 hours a day, and excess stimulation (distractions, diets, activities), it can be hard to fall asleep with ease and stay asleep through the night. If the body is not getting enough rest each night, the adrenals, or stress response organs, do not properly rejuvenate, resulting in fatigue and brain fog the next day. Sound familiar? Help yourself feel more awake in the morning, by limiting unnecessary stimulants as you get ready to turn in for the night.
Sleep Better, Year-Round
While these tips can help you survive the time change that happens twice a year, what happens if you have trouble falling and staying asleep year-round?
Consistent issues with falling and staying asleep could be an indicator of a neurotransmitter imbalance. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that allow for proper communication between the nervous system and the rest of the body. Serotonin and GABA are our primary calming neurotransmitters that play a large role in mood regulation and a healthy sleep cycle. When the levels of these neurotransmitters become depleted, it is common to experience sleep problems.
Depleted GABA levels in particular are associated with the decreased ability to achieve a deep sleep, which can result in restlessness and waking in the middle of the night. Here are a few tips that can promote a better night's sleep year-round:
- Establish a regular sleep routine
- Promote relaxation by trying mindfulness meditation or yoga before bed
- Avoid eating large meals within two hours of bedtime
- Avoid drinking too many fluids before bedtime (this can result in unnecessary disturbances of the sleep cycle)
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine or chocolate after 12pm
- Avoid electronics that emit blue-light at least 1 hour before bed (TV, cellphones, video games)
- Adults should aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and school-aged children need between 10-11 hours
If you're following these tips and are still suffering from symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, or sleepless nights, consider checking your neurotransmitter levels with Wellnicity's My Brain Balance or My Sleep & Mood test kits. Wellnicity's clinicians can use your test results to create a personalized wellness plan to balance the whole brain to alleviate sleep cycle issues and make falling asleep easier year-round.