Get started now to adjust your biological clock

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

If you've been enjoying the daylight on your way to work in the morning, we've got bad news for you. If, on the other hand, you'd like more time after work to get things done outdoors -- shoveling snow, perhaps? -- our news is good.

That's because Sunday is the day to "spring forward," setting your clock ahead one hour to daylight-saving time before you go to bed Saturday night.

Most of us adjust to the lost sleep within a few days, but, according to sleep experts like Leigh Heithoff of BryanLGH Center for Sleep Medicine, others may have trouble adjusting their biological clocks.

If that's you, now's the time to get a head start on the process.

Heithoff offers this advice:

* Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on the weekends.

* Avoid daytime naps or limit them to one brief, 15-minute nap in the early afternoon.

* Avoid drinking alcohol in the evening and do not use it to help you sleep.

* Avoid caffeinated products after mid-afternoon.

* Exercise regularly during the day, but avoid evening exercise.

* Avoid using the bedroom for work, reading, TV-watching, or exercise.

* Keep the bedroom dark, quiet, and comfortable.

* Set aside time to wind down at the end of the day before going to bed.

Besides good sleep habits, Heithoff said, "It is very important to have exposure to bright outdoor or indoor light in the morning. Light stimulates the body's production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep cycle."

Heithoff also reminds people that Daylight Savings is not the only time to focus on our sleep routine.

"If sleep doesn't come naturally despite a good sleep regimen, speak with your physician. Prolonged sleep problems can be associated with other health risks such as high blood pressure, weight gain and trouble with learning and memory."

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