We are roughly two weeks away from returning to Standard Time again, which occurs Sunday, November 5 this year. While we all love that extra hour of sleep, these twice-a-year “adjustments” tend to affect many of us by disrupting our circadian rhythms. According to Psychology Today, circadian rhythm is often referred to as the “body clock.” The circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep and regulates many other physiological processes. This internal body clock is affected by environmental cues, such as sunlight and temperature. When one’s circadian rhythm is disrupted, sleeping and eating patterns can run amok.
I don’t know about you, but this twice-a-year transition has previously thrown my body for a loop and has wreaked havoc on my sleep patterns for the several nights that it takes to correct itself.
Did you know, when we’re sleep deprived we could be prone to eating more due to higher levels of a hormone called Grehlin? According to Doctor Shirin Shafazand, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Miami, the blood pressure rises and “your sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive, which puts more stress on your body.” It’s also pretty common, for most of us, to experience extra fogginess the morning after a time change. The result? A lack of focus occurs as well as possibly some major irritability.
The Sleep Health Foundation claims that 1 in 3 people experience some type of mild insomnia. There are many other serious health implications regarding sleep deprivation that I will talk about in another post, but for now, I want to focus on getting our circadian rhythms ready for the upcoming end of Daylight Savings Time. If we choose to put these into practice now, we can establish better sleep habits for the long run. Better sleep = better health.
I was one of those people who took the sleep drug Ambien a number of years ago and experienced some of the very nasty side effects, especially with sleep walking! I have friends who still give me a hard time for “supposedly” calling them at 2 am to have a conversation, none of which I ever remembered. SCARY! Boy, did I get off that drug quickly. I was struggling with insomnia and was desperate to find some more natural ways in which to fall and stay asleep.
One of the all-natural products I discovered and still LOVE is Quietude, made by a homeopathic company called Boiron. You can find them at Whole Foods and other natural markets and I’ve ordered mine online for between $6-$7 for 60 tablets. Like many women, it’s hard to turn my brain off at night and these little tablets work beautifully by quieting the mind. Most nights I dissolve 2 on my tongue (there’s no unpleasant taste) a couple hours before bed and then I take 2 more right as I get into bed. I’ve even recommended them to one of my doctor’s who raves about it.
One of the primary ingredients is passionflower, which has been used in traditional medicine as a sedative for many years. Boiron, the maker of Quietude, also touts this homeopathic remedy as having no addictive potential. And, equally important, I never wake up feeling groggy. Whenever I use Quietude I get a full eight hours sleep, with no interruptions. *This product is NOT recommended for anyone under the age of 12.
In addition to my homeopathic remedy, I have found these activities to be simple, healthy, and effective ways to calm the mind and prepare for sleep:
I try to do this an hour before going to bed:
- Step away from the television and/or computer, tablet and smartphone, which display blue light. According to Harvard Health, blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.
- Enjoy a quiet, lavender bath, which has been shown to be very calming. Spraying a little lavender mist on your pillow can also induce sleep.
- Read something that’s “light” in terms of subject matter, or listen to soft music.
- Last but not least, I love these 2 easy yoga moves that actually calm the mind, boost relaxation and get our bodies ready for sleep. I’ve tried them both and they do work.
Legs-up-the-wall pose (Viparita Karani)
The Healthy Living Lounge notes that this pose calms the nervous system and mind, relaxes the adrenal glands and relieves tension in the feet and legs.
- Dim the lights in a quiet room.
- Place a cushioned blanket for comfort and/ or support on the ground and sit sideways against a wall. Bring one leg up, then the other as your back comes up against the wall with your legs extended up the wall.
- Extend your arms along your sides with palms facing up.
- Close your eyes and breathe as you relax into the pose. If you like, place a lavender pillow or other eye pillow over your eyes to block light or just breathe in.
- Stay in this pose for approximately 15 minutes, breathing in and out gently and easing into the pose with each breath.
- Release yourself from the pose by sliding one leg down first, then easing the second leg, rolling to your side and getting up slowly. This alleviates any back strain.
To make this easier, bring the buttocks farther away from the wall if you have tight hamstrings. Use a folded blanket for extra head or neck support if you need it.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Gaiam informs us that this pose gently relaxes our spine, shoulders and neck, gently stretching the lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles. It also calms the mind, relieving stress. Gaiam is an online retailer of yoga clothes, equipment, wellness and other healthy living products.
- Dim the lights in a quiet room.
- Find a nice soft blanket and sit on your knees. Then lay forward so that your chest is resting on your thighs and place your forehead on the floor.
- Relax your arms by letting them lie palms next to your thighs or feet.
- Take 8 deep breaths in and out, relaxing into your pose and move your back with the breathing.
- Release yourself from the pose by gently rolling to the side and getting up slowly. This alleviates back strain.
This all being said, BRING IT ON, Standard Time! Sweet Dreams and Happy Sleeping!