Good sleep habits help combat daylight saving woes, improve overall slumber
Clocks fall back at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. That extra hour may leave many sleep-deprived Americans feeling a bit more refreshed, but it can be short-lived.
Kalpesh Patel, MD, is a sleep medicine specialist at Ascension Seton Medical Center Hays, part of Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system. Patel said if people are having trouble adjusting to daylight saving time, good sleep hygiene habits can help, including having a nightly regular bed time.
“Following a fixed sleep time should help us learn what our body needs,” Patel said. “Each person is different but in general, we should stick to the same time nightly. It’s important to help prepare our minds that the bedroom is just for sleep. Avoid activities like watching TV and texting in the bedroom.”
The problem with poor sleep
Not getting enough zzz’s can lead to problems over time like depression, anxiety and sleep apnea. Lack of sleep can also lead to worsening of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Patel said.
If you have a medical condition like heart disease or chronic pain, that can also lead to poor sleep if untreated. Talk to your doctor and seek treatment for more hours of quality sleep.
Sleep is not only important physically but integral to staying on top of our emotional health, said Ascension Seton psychiatrist Garrett Key, MD.
“Sleep is an essential part of taking care of yourself physically, physiologically, and it’s important in keeping your mood level,” Key said. “It helps minimize anxiety and maintain an overall sense of well-being.”
Key said if people have irregular or not enough sleep, it can spark depression and anxiety. That can lead to a decline in work performance, focus and attention. It also gets harder to cope with stress and perform everyday activities.
What if I’m having trouble adjusting to the time change?
If you’re having trouble adjusting to the time change, focus on good sleep hygiene.
Here are some tips for a more satisfying slumber:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Consuming alcohol and caffeine before bed can interfere with good sleep habits.
- Don’t eat late. Finish meals and snacking at least two or three hours before going to sleep.
- Avoid long naps. Longer daytime naps can make it harder for you to get a full night’s sleep. Shoot for a 20-minute afternoon nap instead.
- Turn off electronics. Those screens emit a lot of blue light which interferes with the brain’s natural ability to fall asleep. Flip the switch at least one hour before bedtime.
- Turn out the lights. Light is the most potent interrupter of sleep. Try darkened curtains to reduce outside light.
- Don’t fall asleep on the couch. The brain makes connections to places we sleep. If you repeatedly fall asleep on the couch, it becomes a habit that you don’t fall asleep in bed.
- Take a hot shower. The warm water helps you get a deeper sleep.
- Make your body tired. Exercising about four to six hours before bedtime can make your body tired enough to fall asleep naturally.
- Practice and repeat. Find a good bedtime routine and stick with it. Some minor routine changes during weekends are OK.
- Talk to your doctor. If you’re having prolonged issues getting good sleep, you may need a doctor to evaluate you for sleep disorders. Find out if you could benefit from a sleep study.