8 posts tagged “sleep and health”

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!


Getting back in the groove — 5 hacks + hints for routines that work

Posted September 4th, 2018 by

Even if you haven’t been a student for several years, back-to-school season feels like the time to get back into a routine. What’s involved in a good routine? And what are the potential health perks of a basic regimen? See what the research shows, and join PatientsLikeMe to swap ideas with other members in this forum chat.

How can routines help?

In the business world, countless books and blog posts have touted the importance of routines when you want to succeed.

Many PatientsLikeMe members have talked about the value of routines in coping with a health condition (log in and check out thousands of mentions of “routines” in the forums).

“For me, having a routine with a chronic condition is a must,” says one member with fibromyalgia. “I don’t have to think what I have to do, it is already in my routine.”

Health-wise, having a regimen can help people of all ages. Studies of preschoolers have shown that family routines (with regulated meals, bedtime and screen time) may improve kids’ emotional health and reduce the risk of obesity.

Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that healthy habits and routines help older people, as well. See their seven-year study of people ages 44 to 84 who significantly reduced their heart-health risks by adopting and sticking with certain healthy behaviors (like being physically active for 30+ minutes most days of the week). HMHB highlights the best cannabidiol oil for weight loss for adults looking to shed those few extra founds.

What’s involved in a good routine?

Humans are creatures of habit, so routines offer the structure we crave and can help relieve stress. So what goes into a (generally) healthy routine? And what can you get out of it in return?

  • A solid sleep schedule — with the same bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends — helps regulate your body’s internal clock and sleep more soundly at night, according to the National Sleep Foundation (learn more in our recent write-ups on circadian rhythm and bedtime routines).
  • Healthy, regular meals (home-cooked, if at all possible) mean you’ll have the energy you need and won’t reach for fast food or junky snacks too often. Some people swear by a weekly meal prep day. Research also shows that when we eat (not just what we eat) can impact our circadian rhythm and longterm health. For example, eating over the course of a 15-hour window each day (rather than an 8- to 10-hour span) may throw off your metabolism.
  • Building in time for physical activity and self-care can help boost both mental and physical health. Studies have found that even light exercise is beneficial. Calming activities, like guided meditation and affirmations, or writing or sketching in a journal, are a nice way to start or end the day.
  • Embedding your medication regimen into your daily routine may also help you stick with your treatment plan. One study found that an activity- or cue-based system, such as taking medications while your coffee is brewing or during the weather report on the morning news, works well for some people, rather than just relying on the clock.

Check with your health care providers for personalized advice, of course.

5 hacks and hints for routines that stick

Have you struggled to stick with routines in the past? Consider these fresh ideas and approaches:

  • Stock up on supplies to help keep you on track (just like students do!), such as a daily planner, or colorful sticky notes and pens to jot down reminders and keep tabs on taking medications. You can find lots of nifty gear these days to help you store medshit your hydration goals and more.
  • Turn to technology, such as smartphone alarms and smart home devices to give you a nudge. From wearable activity trackers to apps that remind you it’s bedtime and alarm clocks that mimic the sunrise, there are more and more products geared toward healthy habits.
  • Try weekly routines with catchy names, like “Meatless Mondays,” if you’re trying to cut back on meat, “Takeout Tuesdays,” if you want to limit restaurant meals to just one day a week; “Long Walk Wednesdays,” and so on. Having an achievable motto for each day can keep things fun.
  • Set up cues and mini-rewards for yourself when you’re trying to weave a healthy habit into your routine. For example, if you’re forgetful about taking your meds but you love wearing jewelry every day, put a note in your jewelry box that says, “meds before bling.”
  • Tap into the PatientsLikeMe community! Join the site or sign in to access the following links. In the Mental Health forum, members have been tracking their daily goals together as a community for years. Consider adding to that thread, starting a similar one in your own condition forum or simply posting daily updates on the site to spell out what you’re hoping to accomplish today.

The “best” routine varies from person to person, but ultimately it involves a series of actions that have the potential to become automatic and (ideally) help you live better today. Think: autopilot.

What’s in your daily routine? Have you had success or trouble with getting into good routines? In this forum discussion (psst — join us or log in!), members are swapping ideas and offering support.

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