Feeling sluggish and rundown? Are you wondering why? Other than the usual things that we face daily that make us feel exhausted. This week in the clinic, 80% of the patients we saw, related that they were feeling rundown and sluggish; more so than normal. We assign part of the blame onto the recent change in the time. And, we recommend copious amounts of self-care, without feeling guilty. Read on as we talk about how to sleep better after daylight savings.
“Spring forward, fall back.” Like clockwork, we go through this ritual twice a year. It was put in place to save energy. But what is there a cost to our health and wellbeing from following this time table?
The History of Daylight Savings Time
The idea behind daylight saving time (DST) — when we move our clocks forward by one hour for the warmer months, giving us an extra hour on an autumn Sunday and losing us one in spring — is to make better use of daylight and conserve energy. A later sunset during the long summer days means less need for indoor lighting in the evening. The idea has been around for centuries. Some credit a 1784 essay by Benjamin Franklin.
The first country to adopt DST was Germany, in 1916. The purpose was to save energy during World War I. Other countries followed suit. In the 1970s, during the Arab oil embargo, the U.S. Congress approved an emergency yearlong DST. The federal government extended the observance of DST in the United States by four weeks in 2005. In America, we forward our clocks on the second Sunday in March and set them back on the first Sunday in November. ( The exceptions; Arizona and Hawaii, and a small piece of Indiana, do not use DST.)
While it appears to save energy, research shows largely negative impacts on health. This research has stoked controversy in recent decades and has begged the question if this century-old tradition continues to have support. Some countries, like Argentina and Russia, have dropped DST altogether.
While the spring time change is most dangerous; the time change in the fall presents a different set of problems. After the spring time change, in the first few days after we lose an hour of sleep, researchers have shown increases in car accidents and heart attacks. Those phenomena may actually decrease for a few days after the fall switch, when we are given that extra hour of sleep. Another study indicates there is a mild health boost in the fall. However, a 2016 study in Epidemiology found increased depressive episodes in the fall. This occurs when the change means we are suddenly leaving work in the dark, and we may be going to work in the dark.
TCM and sleep routines
The detrimental effects of lack of sleep are well documented. The more subtle effect of changes in our schedule are more difficult to pinpoint. When we change our sleep patterns, it affects our body. Accordingly, in order for the energetic organs to repair themselves, we should be asleep between 10 to 10:30. This is because our body’s “repair time” starts at 11 p.m. and goes till 3 p.m. The gall bladder time is from 11 – 1 and the liver time is 1 -3. The gall bladder and liver are of the wood element. The wood element is all about regeneration and growth. During that time, there is so much to process that if you aren’t asleep by that time, you can be awake for hours. Both Western and Eastern medicine, then, promote the idea of getting to bed earlier than many of us are used to—and sleeping longer than many of us are requiring of our schedules.
Sleep is not just a matter of what happens at night. It is impacted by what occurs during the day—and it impacts how we experience our waking hours. If our days are filled with high stress and anxiety, sleep may be a challenge.
8 Tips on how to sleep better after daylight savings:
Drink green tea instead of coffee in the morning.
Drinking green tea is better for your body than coffee. There are two things that play into that. First, green tea is very high in antioxidants. Second, it has less than half the amount of caffeine that coffee does. However, since it does have caffeine, drinking it before bedtime is NOT recommended.
Go to sleep every night by 10:30 P.M.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that 10:30 P.M. is the best time for a full cycle of sleep. The reason behind that is that between 11:00 p.m. and 3 a.m. the body does its repair work. By going to bed at the same time each night, we create a routine that our bodies tend to do better with.
Don’t watch TV for up to two hours before you go to bed.
Watching TV late at night has three potential downfalls to it.
- The light emissions from the LED screen suppress the hormone melatonin, which helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle.
- When we watch high action, intense, dramatic shows, it may trigger emotional and hormonal responses, like adrenalin, and our heart rate can increase. That increase stimulates our bodies, making relaxing more challenging.
- Timing of when a show or movie ends may have us stay up longer than our bodies would like.
Do NOT drink very cold water.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine your body has to work extra hard to heat up the cold water you are drinking. So if you drink really cold water at night, your body is working on overdrive and it over-stimulates your body causing you to stay awake.
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat insomnia in China. In China, it is one of the first treatments given to a patient to improve the quality of their sleep.
Self-massage your feet. ( or get someone else to do it)
According to Chinese medicine, basic foot massage, opens up your meridian pathways and help you become more relaxed and calm.
Taking a nap can help keep you from becoming over-tired. When our bodies are over-tired, the adrenal glands kick in to help keep us going. Once that happens, calming everything down takes a while.
If you’re tossing and turning in your bed, try to get up and meditate. You can even practice meditation while lying in bed by bringing awareness to your breathing and taking deeper breaths. If you don’t feel like you know how to meditate, come join us on Mondays from 1 – 2 when Melissa Mattern teaches Meditation for Regular People.
Tips to combat the sluggish feeling
- Don’t feel guilty
- Take a nap and don’t feel bad about it
- Stay at home rather than pushing forward
- Don’t push. You could catch a cold
- Reserve your strength for the holidays.
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