The days are getting longer which means we’re gearing up to spring forward into a new time change! And while more hours of daylight are typically a collective “yay!”, losing an hour of sleep on March 10th can negatively impact our circadian rhythm and cause stress to our mental and physical health.
The good news is that you can minimize the health implications of the time change by working with your circadian rhythm. This means taking a look at your lifestyle and behaviors, making modifications, and utilizing a few easy tools that I have listed below. Prioritizing sleep is essential for our health and without restful, adequate sleep, our risks for illness and disease increase tremendously. Sleep is an invaluable piece of a healthy human, so follow a few of these tips and set yourself up for a healthy transition into longer days and summer nights. Better yet, use them year round if you want to really bulletproof your nighttime routine.
For the week leading up to the time change, begin your nighttime routine one hour earlier. You can set yourself up for success by starting your nighttime routine after dinner or earlier to avoid over stimulating your mind and body before bedtime. Change into comfortable clothes that you don’t mind sleeping in as soon as you know you’re in for the evening. Wash your face, take out your contacts, and brush/floss your teeth as soon as dinner is over and the dishes are put away. This not only will help in your routine, but it also signifies that eating is done for the day and will help those who struggle with nighttime cravings.
Set a reasonable bedtime and be consistent, no exceptions. Know yourself and recognize how many hours of sleep you actually need to function optimally the next day. Think maximum, not minimum and know that everybody’s sleep needs are different. No matter your bedtime, the importance is your consistency. The bedtime app on the iPhone is a perfect addition to creating a regular bedtime! (Android has several similar apps).
Listen to a meditation app, podcast or an audio book you’ve already read. This will allow your mind to relax knowing you aren’t missing any new or valuable material. If you aren’t a podcast fan or a book-on-audio listener, try listening to a meditation app like Head Space. The narrator has a very calm and soothing voice that puts me to sleep just thinking about it. If you’re someone who can’t fall asleep to any noise, try reading an old book for about 10 minutes before bed.
Stretching, yoga and meditating help to relax your nervous system, which is the part of the body that is responsible for a restful night’s sleep. If a racing mind is what keeps you awake at night, stretching and meditation can to help quiet the mind. There are many beginner guides to yoga on the Internet. Do some research to find poses and stretches that are beneficial for bedtime.
Magnesium is a crucial mineral for the human body as it is responsible for bone, teeth, muscle and joint health. It also plays a huge role in sleep and stress reduction. Our modern lifestyle and environment depletes us of magnesium, therefore eating foods rich in magnesium is a great way to increase your magnesium levels. This includes: dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish and dark chocolate (look for 85% and higher). Applying a magnesium topical spray on your body prior to bedtime is another way to get magnesium directly into your bloodstream. Natural Calm, a powdered magnesium supplement can be taken before bedtime to help promote relaxation and sleep. Taking an Epsom salt bath is another great option for absorbing magnesium directly into the skin. The type and quantity of magnesium you need is bio individual so if you have any questions, please schedule a 30-minute complimentary consultation with me (Rachel) and we can chat more about your specific needs.
Chiropractic adjustments help you to relax as it improves the blood flow in the nervous system and corrects any misalignments and subluxations in the spine. Subluxations cause stress on the spine and disrupts communication between the spine and brain which leads to imbalances in the body, and can affect the body’s ability to rest.
Additional natural options:
Sleep in a cool, completely dark room. Utilize blackout shades or sleep mask if necessary. Remove any electronics with artificial lights.
Turn phone to night shift mode to reduce blue light exposure after the sunsets.
Reduce blue light exposure by wearing blue blocking glasses after the sun goes down as artificial (and even natural light) can interfere with melatonin production.
Limit screen time in the evening and turn off WiFi at bedtime. Put phones in airplane mode when you go to sleep.
Avoid caffeine after 12pm.
Drink herbal teas such as Yogi’s “Bedtime” tea or Traditional Medicines “Nighty Night” tea. Chamomile tea is a good option too.
Journal for 10 minutes before bed.
Get 20 minutes of sunlight exposure per day as Vitamin D helps to release melatonin, which is essential for sleep.
Manage blood sugar to avoid spikes in the middle of the night. If you need a snack before bedtime, have a protein + fat. For example: a hardboiled egg or a tablespoon of nut butter.
Limit consumption of alcohol.
Engage in regular movement/exercise routine.