4 posts tagged “disturbed sleep”

Spring Time Change (Spring Daylight Savings) and your Health

Posted November 1st, 2018 by

Many people feel off-kilter when the clock changes due to daylight saving time beginning or ending (as will happen on November 4 in the U.S. — well, most of the country). How do these changes affect you and your health? What do patients think? And what’s the latest state to propose ending or altering the clock adjustment? Let’s chat about clock changes.

Wait, what’s the deal with daylight saving time?

You probably know this by heart: “Spring forward/fall back.” In other words:

Spring = Turn the clocks ahead by one hour for daylight saving time’s start in the spring (usually a Sunday in late March).

Fall = Turn the clocks back by one hour for the end of daylight saving time in the fall (usually late October/early November) and return to plain old “standard time” for about five months.

What’s behind this time-changing ritual? In the U.S., this year marks the 100th anniversary of daylight saving time (also mistakenly called “daylight savings time”), which began in March of 2018 with the clocks “springing ahead” to make the most of daylight and save money on fuel for lighting and heating. But the clock change doesn’t save much energy these days, now that “coal is no longer king,” National Geographic reports.

Who observes it?

  • All U.S. states except Hawaii and (most of) Arizona observe daylight saving time, as TIME explains, but several states in the northeast and around the country have tried to end or adjust the practice.
  • Several countries around the world also have daylight saving time, but some European nations are considering doing away with it.

This year, California has a ballot question (Proposition 7) to lay the legal groundwork for a possible change to the daylight saving time period in the state (read more about “Prop 7” here). One main argument of those who are “Yes on 7”? Changing the clock twice a year is hazardous for people’s health and productivity, they say.

Do clock changes affect your health?

Many people say that daylight saving time can feel like jet-lag because it’s like you’ve skipped to a neighboring time zone. It can confuse both your body and mind, even more so now that most smartphones automatically update their clock app accordingly over night, but your household clocks still need to be manually changed (uhh… what time is it really? )!

Research shows that the clock changes may have serious health effects (especially in the days following “springing ahead,” when we lose an hour of sleep), such as:

“The impacts of DST are likely related to our body’s internal circadian rhythm, the still-slightly-mysterious molecular cycles that regulate when we feel awake and when we feel sleepy, as well as our hunger and hormone production schedules,” Business Insider says. Some doctors recommend making smaller, gradual schedule adjustments (such as moving your bedtime by 15 minutes x 4 days) leading up to the 1-hour clock change.

More and more research on circadian rhythm and the importance of regular bedtimes — even for adults — is emerging. (See below for poll results PatientsLikeMe members’ bedtime regularity.)

Join PatientsLikeMe or log in to check out our writeup on circadian rhythm, plus see what members say in the forums about daylight saving time beginning and ending — which can throw off their sleep cycles, mental health, treatment timing (with Parkinson’s disease and diabetes medications, for example), and more.

Polling of the general public shows mixed feelings about daylight saving time, with some polls showing an almost even split for or against it, and others indicating that the practice isn’t too bothersome to most Americans.

Take a look at some recent PatientsLikeMe poll results about daylight saving time and bedtime regularity:

(PatientsLikeMe newsfeed polls conducted October 3-23, 2018; first question: N=205; second question: N=241)

What are your thoughts on daylight saving time? How does it affect you and your health or routine? Sign up for PatientsLikeMe to talk about this topic here in the forum— and add your voice in more patient polls like the ones above!


Lights out: Bedtime tips to help you sleep through the night

Posted May 25th, 2018 by

Do you have a bedtime routine? Sleep is a challenge for many members in the mental health community — over 3,000 PatientsLikeMe members say they have difficulty sleeping through the night.

Establishing a regular bedtime and better sleep hygiene is one way to help manage restless nights. Check out some pointers from around the web, and hear from other members about their nighttime rituals.

Setting aside “worry time” and other sleep hygiene reminders

Along with getting into a consistent sleep-and-wake cycle, building these habits into your nightly ritual might help:

  • Set aside worry time— A few hours before you go to bed, take time to address and contemplate all you have on your mind (vs. letting it keep you up later).
  • Go to bed only when you feel tired enough to sleep
  • Prepare your brain and body for sleep with a signal it’s time to wind down, whether that’s a warm bath, dimming the lights or listening to soothing music
  • Stop screens (phones, tablets and computers) an hour before bedtime. If you can it might be a good idea trying to make sure that none of these devices are in your bedroom. If you’ve just brought yourself something like a new corner TV stand so that you can watch your favourite TV show in bed, then it might be a good idea to see if you can move that into another room. It all depends on whether or not you want to have that better night’s sleep.
  • Skip the book: “I don’t read in bed (that was a hard habit to break — I LOVE reading in bed),” says one member. Beds should be kept for sex and sleep, not reading, watching TV or looking at your phone.

Make your space suit you

  • Research shows the perfect sleep temps are somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your preference. A room that’s too hot or too cold can keep you up at night.
  • Keeping the room as dark as possible helps. Try black out curtains or an eye mask.
  • Invest in a good mattress. Understandably, mattresses aren’t cheap, but the more money you are willing to put into your mattress, the better nights sleep you can expect to get. After months of searching, we recently bought a queen mattress and it, as well as the Nectar mattress, rank as the best beds for back pain.
  • Turn that neon alarm clock toward the wall so you don’t know what time it is. Ticking off the minutes can lead to more anxiety about how you’re not sleeping. Suffering from anxiety before bed is not going to help you get to sleep quicker. If this is something that you struggle with then it might be a good idea that you start using something like a CBD product to help you have a better night’s sleep. If this is something that interests you, then you can click here for more information.
  • Some folks swear by white noise machines (with sounds from nature, like frogs or rain). Find the right white noise that works for your, even a fan or air purifier can help.

Long before lights out: Tips to keep in mind throughout your day

It’s not only about what you do right before you hit the hay — see how other actions throughout your day can help (or hurt) your sleep quality at night.

Exercise

Yoga or other types of relaxation exercises, like mindfulness meditation can make falling asleep easier, but some members go for something more rigorous..

  • “Another thing that helps is getting pretty serious exercise (1 hour of heart rate at or above 130, for me at least) five or six days a week,” says a member. “That’s not possible for everyone, but it definitely helps me.”
  • “I made the mistake of going for a run too late in the evening,” says a member. It only served to rev her up. Now she plans exercise well before bedtime.
  • Scheduling your exercise outdoors during the day can help some people. Sunlight helps establish your body’s sleep and wake cycles.

Eating and drinking

Drinking alcohol, which you might think will help put you out, actually has the opposite effect, and after a late night cocktail you can find yourself tossing and turning at 3 a.m.. Here are a few more pointers on food and drink from members

  • One member says skipping caffeine including coffee, tea and chocolate after 12:00 p.m. works best for her.
  • Eating meals at regular times also helps your sleep. “None of this dinner at 10 p.m. stuff, which can keep you up,” says a member.
  • “I know some folks who have had luck with Valerian extract, others who have tried kratom capsules, and others who use L-Theanine, putting several drops on a sugar cube,” says another member. (Be sure to check with your doctor before trying Valerian or any other herbal remedy.)

Write it down

  • “When I write by hand in my journal every night, it is easier for me to just ‘word vomit.’ Of course, I can’t read anything I write afterwards, so it’s more an exercise of getting the feelings of the day out so I can go to sleep,” says another member.
  • “Writing is part of my bedtime routine, and includes my ‘gratitudes’ for the day, which I also find helps me wake up with a positive attitude in the morning,” a member explains.
  • You may find it helpful to go one step beyond just setting aside worry time (mentioned above) and writing it down or talking to a friend before settling in for the night.

Interested in joining the conversation about bedtime habits and sleep? Log in or join PatientsLikeMe.

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