2 posts tagged “sleep 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!


Sleep health: An interview with Dr. Lisa Shives from the National Sleep Foundation

Posted July 20th, 2016 by

 

How much do you know about sleep health? We’re digging deeper into how sleep relates to chronic illnesses in a new collaboration with the folks at the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), who are dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education.

To kick things off and share what NSF is all about, we sat down for a chat with board member Dr. Lisa Shives. Dr. Shives has extensive clinical experience treating sleep-related disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, and circadian rhythm disorders. See what she says below about the role of sleep in medicine and how sleep quality affects other health conditions.

Tell us a little bit about what you do and how you became interested in the study of sleep.

I became interested in sleep disorders because I was so sleep deprived as a medical student and resident. That experience made me take sleep very seriously and deepened my empathy for patients with sleep problems.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about sleep disorders?

I think the biggest misconception is that people think that people with “sleep problems” (usually meaning insomnia) are just anxiety-ridden or Type A personality types. — that they just need to relax and get into some good bedtime habits and then they would sleep fine. For people who do not have sleep/wake problems, sleep is the easiest thing in the world. They can’t understand how elusive a good night’s sleep can be.

You’ve managed clinical research studies that focus on sleep disorders, the effects of diet and exercise on sleep, and metabolic and cardiovascular abnormalities associated with sleep disorders. What can you tell us about how sleep disorders affect other conditions?

We have known for years that sleep apnea increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, but now we have evidence that short or poor sleep for any reason also increases the risk of diabetes and weight gain due to the metabolic disturbances that are caused by poor sleep.

For you, what’s the most interesting part of your work? The most interesting discovery that’s come out of your work?

For me, the most interesting recent discovery is that poor sleep or even sleeping at the wrong time deregulates metabolic and hormonal processes. It’s a major contributing factor to the chronic conditions that make up the bulk of the disease burden in modern society: cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.

What role is the study of sleep currently playing in medicine? And how do you see that evolving in the years to come?

I am happy to report that I see a growing awareness among my colleagues in the other fields that sleep is just as important as diet and exercise.

What’s your best piece of advice for patients living with sleep disorders alongside other chronic conditions?

Don’t accept that nothing can be done about your sleep problem. Just because it is common for people with your medical problem to have a sleep disorder does not mean that nothing can be done to improve your sleep/wake cycle and how you feel when you are awake.

Back in 2013, more than 5,000 PatientsLikeMe members participated in a survey about their sleeping habits, and we discovered that a bad night’s sleep is the norm for people with health conditions and that lack of sleep affects them far more than the general population. What are your thoughts on this?

As I said, just because sleep disorders are common among people with certain conditions, that does not mean that the sleep/wake cycle cannot be ameliorated. My advice is that patients should talk to their primary care physicians and sometimes seek out a trained sleep specialist to help them sleep better and feel more alive in the daytime.

 

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