5 Ways to Avoid Losing One Hour of Sleep During Daylight Saving Time
With Daylight Saving Time on the horizon, people throughout the United States (except in Arizona and Hawaii) will “lose” a precious hour of sleep on Sunday, March 10. If you regularly sleep at least 7-9 hours per night, then it should only be a minor inconvenience. However, for the over 50 percent of Americans who sleep less than seven hours, that one-hour loss has a bigger impact, including a possible increased heart attack risk–unless you prepare.
Our overall health, including the immune system’s ability to withstand disease, are dependent on adequate sleep. Lack of sleep has also been a proven factor in increased weight gain. According to Ochsner primary care physician Asghar Naqvi, M.D., there are several things that can be done to help your body “spring forward.”
- Plan ahead. Starting the week leading up to March 11, try to go to bed a little earlier each night, or try waking up a littler earlier each day. This will minimize the amount of time “lost” and make the change less drastic because you have prepared your body.
- Don’t think you can “make up” sleep. Sleeping in the day before or taking a nap the day of won’t help your body adjust. It’s a good idea to go to bed and wake up on the same schedule every day, including weekends. Having a schedule, and sticking to it, is the best way to feel rested.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. While alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, it causes poor sleep quality and can make symptoms of sleep apnea worse. Stimulants, like caffeine and nicotine, can make going to sleep difficult, as they stop your body from making sleep inducing chemicals.
- Have a sleep-friendly environment. The correct bedroom environment will trigger your body for sleep. It should be dark, cool and quiet. Electronic devices such as televisions and tablets stimulate your brain and make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Don’t eat big meals late. Your body needs to work to digest a big meal. Your body functions slow down when you sleep, but that won’t happen if the brain and body are more focused on the digestive process. There are some great foods that you can consume before bed that will help your sleep.
Ochsner registered dietitian Molly Kimball shares that there are foods you can incorporate into your evening routine that have had a proven effect on improving the quality of your rest.
- Passionflower Tea. There are a lot of foods on the market that are touted to help you sleep better, but passionflower has a long history of use as both a sedative as well as an anti-anxiety remedy. Drinking a cup of passionflower tea an hour before going to bed can help you fall asleep faster, as well as improve your sleep quality. It’s rare to find passionflower as the stand-alone tea ingredient. Most likely, it will be incorporated as an ingredient in a tea blend. You’ll want to choose a tea with at least 180-200mg of passionflower, so check the label before purchasing. Gaia’s Sleep and Relax Herbal Tea is one option.
- Carbs and Protein Combination. When it comes to falling asleep, many look to turkey or milk because of the tryptophan they contain. Tryptophan is an amino acid needed to produce serotonin, which is used to make melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Tryptophan-rich foods include proteins like turkey, chicken, eggs and Greek yogurt. But, we also need carbohydrates to enhance serotonin levels, so to reap maximum benefits of tryptophan, the best nighttime choice contains a blend of carbs and protein. Whole grain crackers with cheese, protein-rich cereal like Special K Protein with milk, Nature Valley Protein Bars, toast with peanut butter or cheese, or popcorn with a few nuts are all different options.
- Cottage Cheese and Berries (or kiwi). Cottage cheese with fruit is another carbohydrate/protein combo that can boost serotonin. Additionally, cottage cheese contains a lot of casein, a slow-digesting protein that will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Bonus: It helps prevent the natural breakdown of valuable muscle mass while you sleep.
- Kiwifruit. Not necessarily the most obvious sleep aid, eating two kiwi one hour before bed has been shown to improve the time it takes to fall asleep, total sleep time, and overall sleep quality. Kiwi contains many compounds, including serotonin, which can benefit sleep patterns. While Kimball notes that there’s no guarantee that eating kiwifruit will have you sleeping like a baby, she files this under the “every little bit helps, and it certainly won’t hurt” category of options.
- Spinach. As a top source of magnesium, potassium and calcium, spinach may not be the most exciting addition to your diet, but it will help your body relax. Magnesium has been shown to assist with falling and staying asleep, as well as with restless leg syndrome and nighttime muscle cramps (both of which can interfere with sleep). It’s also rich in potassium which, along with magnesium, promotes muscle relaxation, and calcium, which helps the body produce melatonin. Make it a goal to have spinach with dinner several nights a week and note if it helps to improve your sleep.
“With a little forward thinking, you can dodge those sluggish feelings after Daylight Saving Time,” says Dr. Naqvi. “By adding some of these tips into your routine, good sleep can become a regular occurrence.”
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an Ochsner practitioner, call (225) 761-5200 or visit Ochsner.org/info.