Sleep Rx for Daylight Savings Zombies

Sleep Rx for Daylight Savings Zombies

For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. It's simple physics. So it should come as no surprise that being "sprung forward" into daylight savings time can leave us suffering from chronological whiplash. It's not nice to fool Mother Nature. In fact, some may argue that it's not even possible.

You might be thinking it's only an hour! But that's not how our bodies see it. There's a reason that so many of us feel like the walking dead this time of year. Our bodies have evolved over generations to be in sync with the rhythms of the planet we inhabit. Furthermore, our bodies are not just simple, solitary entities. We are entire ecosystems. We are a coordinated conglomeration of organs and tissues and cells and microbes who are all negatively affected by society's devil-may-care attitude towards time.

Scientists have long known that Earth's living beings operate on a 24-hour cycle that corresponds to the plant's light/dark cycle. Whether a creature is nocturnal, diurnal, or inhabits the penumbral dawn/dusk hours, if it's an earthling, it's figuratively punching a 24-hour clock. But what’s new in the world of science is the awareness of how intricate and coordinated our body clocks are—even within a single sentient organism.

In fact, the study of our body clocks is one of the hottest topics in medical research. We now know, for example, that our livers wake in the predawn hours and liberate sugar into the bloodstream, giving us the boost of energy we need to start the day. The resultant spike in blood glucose is the pancreas’s chemical alarm clock, alerting it, too, that the workday has begun. And so it goes. Our body parts mesh, not just physically, but temporally.

So if you’re among the throngs of daylight-savings victims struggling to keep time with an arbitrary societal clock, take heart. You are not alone. And you’re not overreacting to a mere 60-minute loss. Because you’re not just responsible for getting to your own job on time . . . you’re making sure that your entire metabolic workforce shows up with you.

Unfortunately, it may be a bit late to entirely smooth the time transition this spring. But what springs forward must fall back. It’s simple physics. You’ll have another chance before you know it.

The Cleveland Clinic has these hints for adjusting to the time change:

  1. Make shifts gradually, adjusting your schedule by 10-15 minutes daily.
  2. Be consistent with your daily routine, including meals, social activities, exercise, and bedtime.
  3. Have an evening ritual.  Consider reading an old-fashioned book, rather than using electronic devices.
  4. Avoid long naps.  Stay active during daylight hours, and you’ll more likely sleep well at night and wake rested.



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