With the recent time change from Daylight Saving time, most of us (except those with small children) enjoyed the extra hour of sleep.
While it’s wonderful to actually have an extra hour in the day (who doesn’t want that), your body is left to deal with an adjustment. This time change affects your body just like jet-lag does, and the sooner you get your body on to the new rhythm the better.
Get back to your regular sleep-time schedule as soon as possible (regardless of how much your body fights you at first) in order to avoid a disruption in your brain’s ability to help you fall asleep.
According to the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM), 45 per cent of the world’s population suffer from a sleep disorder. Sixty per cent of Canadians feel tired most of the time and get an average of 6.9 hours of sleep a night, while 30 per cent get fewer than six hours of sleep a night?
Sleep experts suggest we require approximately eight hours of sleep a night, every night. Do you get enough sleep? Are you “too busy” for sleep?
Dr. Charles Samuels of the Canadian Sleep Society says, “Too often, not getting enough sleep is seen as a badge of honor in our society.” Is that you?
In a report released by WASM, the association states it can be dangerous to health and safety to cut back on the recommended amount of sleep (that’s a whopping eight hours, remember?). A person who has not slept in 20 hours has a level of impairment equal to an individual who has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 per cent (which is considered legally impaired in Ontario).
Lack of sleep can contribute to serious health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high-blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. However, just one extra hour of sleep a night appears to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease (according to WASM).
The Mayo Clinic reports lack of sleep can also affect your immune system. It has said, “Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.”
One of the main reasons our nation is so sleep deprived is because of technology and the “blue-light” we are exposed to. When it’s time to get sleepy, our brains start to produce a sleep hormone called melatonin.
However, for this to happen, our bodies (especially our eyes) need to be exposed to partial darkness.
Unfortunately, many individuals are exposed to the blue light that emanates from using a cell phone, computer, lap top, tablet or any electronic device before bed. This blue light is responsible for tricking the brain into thinking it is day and tells your brain to stay awake.
The solution is to eliminate the use of any electronic device 30-60 minutes before you want to fall asleep.
When the body is at rest and in Stage 3 sleep (the deepest form of sleep), that is when the body is able to repair itself from the damages of the day (both physically and mentally). Without this much-needed sleep, the body’s ability to function properly starts to decline, which increases the risk of illnesses and chronic diseases.
Want to wake up feeling happy, refreshed and healthy? Make sleep a priority and plan to have a minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Sleep is not overrated.
Lisa Lounsbury is the founder of New Day Wellness, a corporate wellness coach, certified personal trainer, fitness leader and a nutrition and wellness specialist.