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You may have heard of an internal clock but if not, we all have one. It is responsible for our circadian rhythm, which is a mechanism in the brain that helps us keep time. It is always there and tells us when to wake up, when to eat.
The sun synchronizes our internal clock to 24 hours. So why are we tired on the following Monday after we move our external clock forward just 1 hour?
It takes about 1-2 days to recover from just an 1 hour shift? When we shift our external clocks, we have to re-synchronize our internal clock with the sun.
But the time change is more than an inconvenience. Studies have linked it to increased incidences of heart attacks, workplace injuries and traffic accidents.
Disruption in our circadian rhythm such as a time change, working nights or rotating shifts, increases hormones like cortisol which increases inflammation in the body. This can lead to obesity, weight gain, cancer, impaired task performance, dementia and mood changes to name a few.
Did you know that there is a 24% increase risk for heart attack for those with a history or family history of heart disease on the Monday following daylight savings time. So if you start to have chest pain or indigestion that won’t go away, get checked out
Tips to ease the daylight saving time transition:
- Stick to a workday sleep schedule on the weekend of the time change.
- Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night, beginning on the Wednesday before the March 13 time change.
- Dim lights earlier leading up to the time change and avoid bright lights in the evening, especially from smart phones, computers and TV screens.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening.
- Keep the bedroom cool and dark.
- Get morning exercise in the sunlight on the weekend of the time change.
- Eat an early breakfast and dinner on the weekend before, and eat a good breakfast the Monday morning after the time change.
If fatigue and interrupted sleep patterns persist two weeks after the time change, this may indicate a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea, a very common condition, but often under-diagnosed. Effective treatments are available and you should consider an evaluation by a sleep specialist.
The good news is our bodies should adjust quickly. So follow the tips above and enjoy your extra hour of sunshine.
Your sleep expert and creator of Reboot Repair Rebirth, a doctor’s gentle but powerful advice on how to take your life back.