Each March most of us move our clocks forward by one hour to honor the daylight saving time tradition, signaling the beginning of spring. While gaining that extra hour of daylight has its perks, losing an hour of sleep can have more of an effect than just the mild inconvenience of cutting our weekend short.
One of the most common side effects is sleep deprivation. On average, it will take most people one full day to get their internal clocks back on track. However, if you’ve already been having a hard time sleeping at night, it can take much longer.
The importance of a good night’s sleep
Why is good quality sleep a priority? Beyond the obvious reasons—feeling refreshed and able to be productive—there are other reasons you might not have thought about.
Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes; decrease your immune system’s defences; and contribute to chronic headaches, depression, mental anxiety, and obesity.
Impaired sleep has even been linked to erectile dysfunction in men and low libido in both men and women.
What can be done to help?
For people experiencing sleep problems, conventional short-term treatments may involve sedative/hypnotics, such as benzodiazepines. However, these are not without their potential problems, including dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, muscle weakness, and the risk of dependency.
Before considering a pharmaceutical therapy, consider these natural recommendations to help you catch those much needed ZZZs.
- Make your bedroom sleep friendly: create a cool, dark, relaxing environment and unplug electronic gadgets such as tablets and TVs.
- Limit screen time in the hours before sleep.
- Keep a consistent bedtime and wake time when possible, avoiding sleeping in too much on the weekends.
- Try relaxation techniques such as listening to soothing music and practising progressive muscle relaxation or bedtime meditation to ease you into sleep.
- Refrain from engaging in mentally stimulating activities before bed and also avoid consuming stimulants such as caffeine, cigarettes, or alcohol.
- Exercise regularly.
- Limit napping during the daytime to 30 minutes or less.
- Consider using natural remedies with the advice from your health care practitioner. Examples might include hops, valerian, melatonin, or camomile.