This past weekend we were blessed with an extra hour of daylight. However fantastic that sounds for many who fall victim to seasonal depression, it may be problematic for those who suffer from sleeping disorders or the general public that just doesn’t adjust well to abrupt changes.
For some, the adjustment to the forward “spring” may take as long as a week to get used to. This may be because light is a direct link to our internal body clock called the circadian rhythm, which are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.
When this rhythm is disturbed it can affect memory, performance and cause daytime sleepiness. Although this is not the same as our biological clock, they are both closely related in the sense that light is the main cue influencing circadian rhythms, turning on or turning off genes that control an organism’s internal clocks.
So, how can we poor souls adjust more quickly to the fact that we have lost one whole our of sleep?
1. Control natural impulses: Although humans yearn for natural sunlight, you have to stay indoors and keep yourself from getting the last hour of light. It works against the direction of your body and will allow you to become more relaxed and prepare yourself for a night of sleep.
2. Block out bedroom windows if you must: By keeping the light out, your body will have an easier time falling alseep. This is the same reason why it is advised that we keep tablets, cell phones and other technological devices out of the bedroom due to the bright light that keeps the brain awake.
3. Melatonin supplements: These don’t cause any harm and might even be prescribed by your doctor to help you get to bed earlier. Melatonin is the hormone that makes you sleepy and having a little bit in order to get to sleep earlier might be just what you need to get back to a normal schedule.
4. Keep room cozy, cool and dark: Because losing an hour is much more difficult to deal with than gaining an hour of sleep, make sure that your room is comfortable. Keep a temperature between 60-64 degrees which tells your body that it’s ready to sleep and make sure that it’s relatively dark. Buying light-blocking curtains for your room isn’t a bad idea to have all year around to make sure you get quality sleep.