New Perspectives on Sleep

Sleep regenerates and repairs our body. Sleep helps us stay mentally sharp. In this challenging time, we need to be mindful of choices that interfere with the best quality sleep.

News and social media may make us anxious. It may be helpful to pay attention to the news and Facebook early in the morning and pay less attention later in the day and evening. Viewing earlier will allow us to be more relaxed in the evening.

Caffeine stimulates our body’s systems. Caffeine may make it more difficult to fall asleep and reach deep restful sleep. If you decide to consume caffeine, it may be best to have caffeinated drinks early in the day. No later than 3:00 in the afternoon is best. Your body will have time to metabolize the caffeine before bedtime.

Melatonin is our sleep hormone. Blue light wavelengths turn off melatonin production which cause us to be more awake. Blue light is emitted from TV screens, phones, computer and tablets. It is best to turn off these screens 2 hours before bedtime. As an alternative, read a book or magazine printed on paper.

Be aware that LED and compact florescent lights emit blue wavelengths also. Wearing Blue Blocker glasses or TrueDark glasses in the evening may decrease the amount of blue light reaching your eyes. You may also consider a red LED bulb in your bedroom by your bed. A red light will allow you to see if there is a need to get up in the night but will be less disruptive to your sleep.

Meditation may also help you to quiet your mind and drop more easily into deep restful sleep. You’ll find some helpful ideas on meditation in this post.

Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about healthy eating and lifestyles and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not medical or psychological advice. This information is to be used at your own risk, based on your own judgment. For my full disclaimer, please go to donnakkelly.com\disclaimer

New Perspectives on Daylight Savings Time

Sunday, March 8th, at 3:00 AM, we will spring forward and be on Daylight Savings Time (DST) in most of the United States, Europe and Canada. This abrupt change in time in relation to daylight may be the cause of a variety of negative health and safety effects. Many people struggle for a week to overcome the time change. People experience lost productivity, lower quality of life, increased illness and complain of just feeling tired.  

Focusing on self-care before the time change may help alleviate some of the impact. You might:

  • Try to go to bed 15-20 minutes earlier each night for 2-3 nights before the time change. This may allow your body to adjust more easily.
  • Begin to adjust the timing of your meals a little earlier each day for 2-3 days. This may be especially important with dinner.
  • Get some early morning sunlight, especially on the first day of the time change, Sunday. The bright light helps to set your body’s clock to the new daytime hours and become fully awake.
  • Be careful driving and operating machinery if you feel drowsy. Your reaction times may be delayed, and accidents may happen.
  • Stick with your normal bedtime on Sunday to get plenty of sleep for your Monday normal waking routine.
  • Avoid using phones and computers in the evening to decrease the blue light wavelengths which decrease melatonin, your sleep hormone.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for several hours before bedtime. Caffeine is best consumed before noon.

Studies show the negative health consequences of DST.

Monday is routinely associated with more heart attacks than any other day of the week. It is known as the “Monday cardiac phenomenon.” After DST, there is an additional 24% increase in heart attacks on Monday. Conversely, there is also a 21% drop in heart attacks on Tuesday following the end of DST.

There is an increase in traffic accidents and workplace injuries on Monday after DST.

There is lost productivity after DST. Cyberloafing, surfing the web for unrelated content to work, increases after the time change.

Judgement may be impaired. There are studies showing increase in spending on the Monday after the time change. A study of federal courts found 5% longer sentences handed down on “sleep Monday.” Managers may find themselves doling out harsher criticisms.

Students taking tests on the Monday after DST may see lower test scores.

Europe has plans to phase out DST in 2021. The European Union has noticed these negative consequences to their population’s health and economy and are acting. Russia stopped their time changes in 2011. Asia and Africa do not change their times during the year.  

Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only.  It is being provided to you to educate you about healthy eating and lifestyles and as a self-help tool for your own use.  It is not medical or psychological advice.  This information is to be used at your own risk, based on your own judgment.  For my full disclaimer, please go to donnakkelly.com\disclaimer

New Perspectives on the Importance of Darkness

The importance of the correct quality and quantity of high-quality sleep cannot be overstated. During sleep we renew and repair our body and cleanse toxins from our brain. Sleep is when we lay down new short-term memories into long-term memory. For those of us wanting to perform better, getting a good night’s sleep is critical, especially before an event where we want to do our best. Is there a day where we don’t want to do our best?

Sleep may help us optimize the use of our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that helps us to make good decisions. This can be important in everything we do from choosing better foods, to having more patience with our family, fellow workers, and even other drivers on the road.

Optimizing sleep may allow us to have more energy and not be tired. With more energy, we may decide to move more in our day. Better sleep may calm your desire to eat to get more energy.

Total darkness helps improve the quality of sleep. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is maintained better in total darkness. This is darkness to the point you can not see your hand in front of your face. This can be difficult to attain if you live in the city and have streetlights nearby. Blackout shades on the windows can help. These should also not allow light in around the edges. Using a sleep mask is another inexpensive way to eliminate light reaching your eyes while sleeping.

In a study done in Tel Aviv, researchers measured the amount of light from streetlights. Then they overlaid this on breast cancer incidence in the city. The two areas matched. Just because they matched does not mean that the light caused the breast cancer. Correlation is not causation. However, it may be prudent for one to increase sleep quality so one can repair and heal optimally each night.    

Walking safely in the dark is imperative. It is critical to avoid slips, trips and falls. Clear the paths of trip hazards. For lighting, there are red-light motion sensor night lights. Plug those into an outlet in your bedroom, hallway, and bathroom. You should be able to see appropriately to navigate the area safely in the dark. The red light will not decrease your melatonin production; therefore, you may be able to drop back to sleep more easily.

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