Clocks go forward: What losing an hour's sleep can do to your body
Tonight, like it or not, you’re going to have an hour's sleep unceremoniously hijacked from you as the clocks go forward.
Admittedly, in the long run, we’ll probably find ourselves grateful for the extension to wonderful spring and summer evenings, but try telling that to any bleary-eyed, non-morning person over the course of the next week or so and you’re likely to receive a rather dark reply.
The ramifications of losing an hour’s sleep can go beyond a bit of early morning grumpiness though.
There are more serious issues associated with sleep loss and that’s why it’s important to try and get back into your normal sleeping rhythm as quickly as possible. Here are a few of the possible issues associated with the loss of just an hour's sleep:
The chills: When your body is in need of more sleep it will begin to automatically prepare itself for rest, which involves cooling itself down. So if you find your teeth chattering at work, it’s likely that you’re in need of more sleep.
An elevated risk of physical health issues: Just half an hour of ‘sleep debt’ – a measure of how people are making up on lost weekday sleep at weekends- can disrupt the natural rhythm of hormones in the body and lead to a much greater risk of diabetes and obesity.
A dangerous lack of concentration: Data shows that there’s a distinct rise in the rate of car accidents in the week following the change so make sure that you’re feeling fully awake and ready to go before jumping behind the wheel.
Mental health: Lack of sleep is intimately linked to depression. Studies have show that suicide rates tend to rise following the changing of the clocks and this is partly attributed to mental issues that can be brought on by a disruption in circadian rhythms.
Rise in irritability can be a problem for relationships: Less sleep equals higher irritability, elevated selfishness and thus more fights with your partner. Suddenly the fact that they didn't hang up the bath mat embodies the existential failures of your entire relationship.
- And a few methods underneath that may help you get back into your sleeping pattern after the change and potentially aid with sleeping and waking behavior in the future:
As tempting as it may seem, try not to have a lie-in on Sunday: It's likely that, if you sleep in late, you'll impinge on your night's rest. It's very important to keep regularity in sleeping patterns to make sure that you never have to feel like you're catching up.
Take a stroll: Fresh air and natural light are nature's way of waking you up. Even if its just the briefest of walks in the morning, try and make it one of the first things that you do.
There’s no point going to sleep if you’re awake: If you go to bed in the knowledge that you're not going to get to sleep any time soon, all that you're doing is lying down, thinking about how long it is until your alarm goes off and growing anxious. Stay up for a bit and read a book or listen to relaxing music, anything to take your mind off actually trying to drift off.
No tablets in bed: It can be very tempting to send off a few emails or watch a couple of programmes before going to sleep but it's important to keep the bed set aside for sex and sleep only. The human brain's natural inclination is to make association with objects so if you're on your tablet for an hour before bed, it's likely to become a habit.
Ease off the caffeine after lunch: Research has shown that caffeine consumed up to six hours before sleep is likely to have a negative effect on sleep patterns so try and keep coffees to the morning.
Belfast Telegraph Digital