Winding down as we spring ahead

Author: Liz Kovac

There are many factors that can disrupt your sleep schedule. Daylight savings is one of them. Here are some healthy sleep habits that will help you wind down as we spring ahead.

Follow a sleep schedule.

Daylight savings time can affect our circadian rhythm by confusing our biological routine. “Our circadian rhythm is composed of physical, mental, and behavioral changes of a 24-hour cycle,” said Dr. Muhammad Kashlan, Director of the Sleep Center at McLaren Lapeer Region.

While it may take a few days to get used to the time change, it is important to maintain a routine sleep schedule. Make sure you’re going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Luckily there is an hour’s worth of wiggle room. If you normally go to bed at 10 p.m., you shouldn’t go to bed more than an hour earlier or later.

No caffeine or nicotine five hours before bed.

“Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants,” said Dr. Kashlan, “and can make it difficult to go to sleep after consuming them.” It is best to avoid both a few hours before going to sleep. Try chamomile tea or warm milk before bed. “Milk contains tryptophan which the body uses to create melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.”

Shut off electronic devices an hour or more before bed.

Cell phones and other electrical devices emit blue light, which restrains the production of melatonin. This hormone controls your circadian rhythm and affects when you feel tired and awake. It’s best to put down the devices an hour or so before going to sleep.

Create a good bedroom environment.

Making a comfortable sleeping space includes making sure your bedroom is clean, organized, dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature.

“Try not to fall asleep in a chair,” said Dr. Kashlan. “Do your best to help your brain associate sleep with your bed.”

If lack of sleep is having a negative impact on your quality of life, make an appointment with your primary care physician. If you need a physician referral, call (810) 667-5990.