Ever wish you could turn back the clock to get that extra few hours of sleep?
Well, you may literally feel like that during the upcoming switch back to Daylight Savings Time, and it’s not just crankiness that’s getting to you. Daylight Savings Time will soon have us all at odds with our usual sleep schedule, and it could be impacting our health and aging us faster.
The good news is there are steps you can take to get your sleep back on track and in turn improve your health, wellness and reduce your biological age. Below are a few ways to help you during your transition into Daylight Savings Time (DST).
Daylight Savings Time is challenging
It’s not your imagination, DST changes your circadian rhythm. That’s the neurobiological process that regulates sleep patterns, and it’s highly regulated by sunlight hours. Circadian rhythms are critical to maintaining overall health and can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, eating habits, digestion and other important bodily functions. They govern the 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of most living beings, and the more we know about our own, the better.
When you change your clock forward one hour for DST, you're more than likely going to lose an hour of sleep during the night. The switchover will disrupt your internal clock and the worst effects from this can last up to a week.
Of course, you can help yourself out now by incrementally going to sleep 10 or 15 minutes later each night leading up to the change. To get the most out of this, make sure you can only sleep those extra minutes in the morning.
Idealy, when the clock switches over this Sunday, it won’t be as much of a shock on your sleep schedule.
Does it really matter if you lose that hour?
You may not realize it, but getting enough sleep can be just as (if not more) important than diet and exercise to your overall health outcomes.
Because many of the most difficult illnesses are caused by, or exacerbated by stress—and sleep is your body’s natural way of fighting stress and repairing the body. Consistent, quality sleep is your first defence against illness or disease.
In fact, sleep can reduce your risk of heart disease, arterial disease and mental illness. Critical to this is the negative effect lack of sleep has on blood pressure, hypertension and other risk factors, and the positive effect more sleep has on reducing these factors.
Lose an hour, lose a year?
Arterial disease is still the number one cause of mortality in the developed world. The health of your heart and arteries are so tied to your overall health. In fact, more and more research is being proven that measuring aortic and arterial stiffness may be the one of the key gauges of your “biological age”.
Biological age is a new way that health professionals measure your health against other people of your chronological age. If you are in worse overall health than average, your biological age will likely be greater than your calendar, or chronological, age.
So don't feel guilty about catching those extra z’s. You owe it to yourself to sleep more for a healthy heart, and a longer lifespan
The 5 easiest steps to better sleep
Don’t let that information get you down though. Knowing why sleep is important equips you with the knowledge to counter the negative effects.
Here are 5 things you can start doing right away to get better sleep:
- Stick to your sleep schedule, even on weekends
- Stop drinking caffeine about 8 hours before you plan to sleep
- Get enough sunlight during the day
- Nap early or not at all (preferably short and before 5PM)
- Eat lighter in the evenings, and avoid late night snacking
Your circadian rhythm is exactly that—A rhythm. It functions on the same pattern every day, which means it works best when you stick to the schedule.
Things like caffeine disrupt your body’s natural rhythm, and your internal clock is mainly governed by sunlight, so pay close attention to steps 1,2 and 3.
Good sleep is not just about your bedtime routine. It’s also about what you do during the day. And making sure that you get enough daytime sunshine will actually help you to sleep better at night.
Look and feel younger
Want to know how to live longer? It turns out one of the keys to longevity is in the quality of our sleep, and that could well be dictated through our circadian rhythms.
Getting more sleep will improve your overall health, contribute to lowering your biological age and lengthen your lifespan. Implement the 5 steps listed here to improve your sleep before Daylight Savings Time and start to feel the results internally.
Most of all, we hope you can sleep soundly knowing the brighter, longer days of Spring and Summer are close at hand, and that you find your healthiest circadian rhythm this season.
Learn more about tracking the effects of a maintaining a proper circadian rhythm on your biological age with iHeart Internal Age™.