Sleep Week: Daylight Savings and National Sleep Awareness Day

World Sleep Day is held the Friday before the Spring Vernal Equinox of each year. This year being Friday March 18th.  We recognize that as we age s...

World Sleep Day is held the Friday before the Spring Vernal Equinox of each year. This year being Friday March 18th.  We recognize that as we age sleep isn’t as easy as it used to be - especially with the shift of daylight savings. Most people find that aging causes them to have a harder time falling asleep. They wake up more often during the night, and earlier in the morning. We know that sleep is essential and has benefits for everyone, especially people with type 2!

Additionally, Daylight savings time starts on March 13th at 2am.  Every year, clocks are set ahead by one hour at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March. The point of setting the clocks back is to give an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon while having an hour less of daylight in the morning. This in theory could help save energy and give us “more hours” in the day. How can we smooth this transition and get better sleep in general? 

Benefits of Sleep for Type 2’s

March is National Sleep Awareness Month and a great time to understand why sleep is important and how to prioritize our sleep.  When we sleep our bodies' immune system is boosted, our memory and moods are improved and our productivity increases. There are a number of sleep benefits for type 2’s specifically including:

Prevent Weight Gain / Promote weight loss - Sleeping doesn’t make you lose weight but it can help you to cut calories and help you keep a healthy metabolism if you are getting enough quality sleep and eating at healthy times.  Many of us are guilty of staying up too late and snacking when we are tired.  Many times we aren’t actually hungry at these later hours and instead simply need to have a glass of water and hit the hay. “If you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite. Your body also decreases the production of leptin, a hormone that tells you you’re full,” SCL Health . 

Additionally, when we aren’t getting enough sleep or are tired this can affect our motivation to stick to our meal plans and workout routines. A study revealed that adults who are sleep deprived were 55% more likely to become obese. If you’re trying to lose weight, getting a good night’s rest is critical.  Poor sleep leads to unhealthy habits. We are more likely to stay on track in our healthy lifestyles if we are well rested. 

Stronger Heart - Everything in your body needs rest to work efficiently.   Lack of sleep can cause your body to release cortisol, a stress hormone that triggers your heart to work harder - putting more stress on your heart. High blood pressure and heart disease are linked to poor sleep.  Prioritize your sleep to give your heart and body the time to recharge. 

Adjusting to Daylight Savings

Unfortunately some of us might be more sensitive to minor changes in sleep than others.  Even the one hour change of daylight savings can throw off your body’s circadian rhythm, the internal clock that helps control sleep and many other biological processes. In fact, according to sleepfoundation.org, “Studies have found an association between the transition to daylight saving time and short-term risk of heart attacks, stroke, traffic accidents, emergency room visits, and serious mood disturbances”, specifically in regards to the “spring forward,” time frame.  

There are a few ways you can prepare your body for these time changes each year including gradually waking up 20 minutes earlier each day in the week leading up to springing forward. Additionally, the week of the daylight savings change is the week where you should seriously prioritize your sleep, setting a strict bedtime and not skipping on the zzz’s! This is not the week to power through or run down your sleep bank. 

General Sleep Tips

Bedtime routines never go out of style or importance - there is a reason we set strict bedtime routines for children and they should last a lifetime!  These routines will help us fall asleep faster AND get a better night’s sleep. A few basics for good sleep include:

  1. Body Wind Down - Taking a minute for meditation, stretching, journaling, reading (not suspenseful story or article on a non-blue light tablet or a book), drinking tea etc. 
  2. Technology Off - All of our phones, smartwatches and tablets have bedtime settings now.  Set those to turn off notifications and lower the lighting 2 hours before bed. You can even leave your phone, or tablet out of the bedroom. 
  3. Environment for Sleep - turning the lights down (soft lighting) lower an hour or two before bed to start signaling your body that you are preparing for sleep, keeping your bed and bedroom clean, lowering the temperature (most people sleep the best between 65-69 degrees). 

This Saturday night before you go to bed, set your household clocks, watch and other manual clocks ahead one hour (your cellphones, smartwatches and computer should make this change themselves) so you can have a great Sunday! For more information on healthy living and controlling and treating diabetes, join our free diabetes support group: Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together - make the rest of your March a month of quality and consistent sleep!