The coming of Spring! With the arrival of this new season comes warmer weather and longer daylight hours. Yesterday was the official start of Daylight Savings Time. We "sprung ahead" and shifted our clocks up one hour. While DST gives our evenings plenty of daylight hours to enjoy more outdoor activities, it also takes away a precious hour of sleep; and, in a nation where the majority of us are not getting adequate sleep, DST can be a negative adjustment in our lives.
Besides Daylight Savings Time, another event taking place this week is Sleep Awareness Week. This campaign was launched over 20 years ago by The National Sleep Foundation and always follows the week of Daylight Savings Time. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the importance of sleep health and why we need to make sleep a high priority in our lives.
First off, how much sleep should we be getting each day?
As we age, our sleep needs change. Click on the CDC image to see what the experts recommend on how much sleep we should get.
Second, why do we need sleep?
"Scientists have explored the question of why we sleep from many different angles. They have examined, for example, what happens when humans or other animals are deprived of sleep. In other studies, they have looked at sleep patterns in a variety of organisms to see if similarities or differences among species might reveal something about sleep's functions. Yet, despite decades of research and many discoveries about other aspects of sleep, the question of why we sleep has been difficult to answer (Healthy Sleep)."
Third, how do we improve our sleep?
There are many steps that we can take to improve our sleep.
1. Be consistent: try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. And, make sure your bedtime will allow you to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
2. Create the perfect sleep atmosphere: a darkened bedroom, minimum noise and the right temperature are some of the things that make sleeping easier.
3. Avoid electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
To learn more about how to improve sleep, click on this link for more sleep tips from The National Sleep Foundation.
So how do we adjust to Daylight Savings Time and the lost hour of sleep?
For many, DST does not have a great affect on their bodies. However, for some, especially those experiencing sleep deprivation, the lost hour can be brutal. The best way to deal with DST is to remain consistent with your bedtime schedule. If possible, try adding a few minutes of extra sleep a night. Also, keep your daily routines the same and don't forget to exercise. If you need to nap, keep it short, no longer than 20 minutes. It may take you up to a week for the body to adjust to the new time change.