Winston Churchill was once quoted saying,
A beautiful quote by a gifted orator but the truth is, only a small group of us get that sweet extra hour of sleep. In fact, it has been concluded in a review in the journal “Sleep Medicine Reviews” (Dr. Yvonne Harrison, Liverpool John Moores University) that this seemingly small one-hour change results in a net loss of sleep across the week!
This means that in the week following the one-hour shift, many people actually end up having more trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. And this can be explained by our circadian rhythm.
Everyone has a unique, genetically-determined internal clock, which keeps track of when our bodies should be doing what. While a day on earth lasts 24 hours, research has revealed that our internal clocks don’t always match that rhythm. In fact, scientists have found that people’s rhythms vary between about 23.5 and 25 hours. Although each of us has a unique rhythm, there are three main chronotypes:
Larks are people who have a shorter clock - they like to go to bed and wake up early.
Owls have a longer clock - they like to go to bed and wake up later.
Eagles are somewhere in the middle, and have a clock close to 24 hours.
And because sleep is a big component of circadian rhythms, it will be affected by outside influences like Daylight Saving, a bi-annual abrupt time change that changes the natural patterns of light and dark that your brain has gotten used to.
The result? In the short-term, you feel the effects of temporary sleeplessness and in the worst-case scenario, it could develop to insomnia.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do to avoid, as much as possible, the negative effects of the clock falling back:
1) Prepare your body in the days leading to the clocks changing: Start going to bed and waking up 10 to 15 minutes later each day.
2) Expose yourself to bright light in the morning: Open the curtains, roll up the blinds, or use artificial light such as a Light Therapy Box.
3) Be aware of your lights and screen-time as night falls: Keep the lights dim at least two hours before you go to sleep. And if you have to use a device for work at night, consider adding a blue-light filter. We recommend f.lux, an app that makes the light from your computer screen adjust according to the time of day.
4) Boost your energy and take a midday walk: Not only will it boost your mood, but natural daylight will support your circadian clock and help you sleep at night.
5) Schedule naps: Consider taking an afternoon nap or two during the week. Naps improves any feelings of sleepiness and boosts mood! Do limit your nap from 10 to 30 minutes, and only around 2pm to 3pm to avoid disrupting your bedtime.
Restless nights of sleep after stressful days can happen to anyone, but did you know that continuous nights of poor sleep also make you more vulnerable to next-day stressors?
Join Dr. Els van der Helm as she shares science-backed techniques to help you reduce stress, fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Key takeaways include:
- Major stressors we face today
- Sleep-stress cycle and burnout in detail
- Relaxation techniques and insomnia prevention
- Guided relaxation exercises to reduce stress immediately
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