Fall back or spring forward? Each spring, we set our clocks forward one hour. While the time change affects individuals in different ways, “losing” an hour of sleep in the spring is often more difficult to cope with. We’ll discuss how Daylight Saving Time affects your sleep cycle, symptoms of lack of sleep, and offer some advice on how too little sleep can affect your maintain healthy sleep habits.
How Much Is “Too Little” Sleep?
You’ve had it drilled into your head since you were a child—getting the proper amount of sleep each night is crucial for your fitness. Of course, the proper amount of sleep can vary from person to person.
In the case of a friend who plays football, his training schedule may be so rigorous and his football practices so intense that he likely needs more sleep than the average person to be able to function properly. And imagine how easy all that sounds compared to being a parent.
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Lack of Sleep Can Cause Issues
Sleep deprivation has some scary side effects that can affect your overall health and your ability to perform normal daily functions like driving, operating heavy machinery, or even keeping track of your responsibilities.
Symptoms of lack of sleep can include slow reaction times, inhibiting your ability to make fast-paced decisions, which can be highly dangerous, and not to mention, can make you look bad at work. If you seem to be less coordinated than normal, since you’ve been known to unexpectedly drop your phone or run into doors, you can blame that on the sleep deprivation as well.
A lack of sleep can cause many other symptoms as well. If you seem to be crying at the drop of a hat lately, or seem to catch every cold that floats around your office, you might need to change up your sleeping habits. Struggling to concentrate, eating more than normal, and falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow are all signs that you need more sleep.
The signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation mentioned above are scary, and over time, can lead to serious consequences. Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to weight gain, premature skin aging, memory loss, decreased libido, heart disease, brain damage, and even death.
What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
Many different factors can affect the amount and quality of sleep you get every night. Sinus issues and allergies can make it difficult to feel properly rested when your alarm clock sounds.
Don’t let allergies overrun your life. Over-the-counter medications may ease your symptoms temporarily, but we offer solutions that can help you experience long-term relief.
Snoring and sleep apnea are both big contributors to a restless night as well. If your partner has been complaining about your loud snores and you seem to consistently be exhausted no matter how much sleep you got, talk to us about setting up a sleep study.
Need a few tips to help you establish a habit of getting a good night’s rest each night? Try to maintain consistency in your schedule. Do your best to go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. Try to avoid screen-time (phones, tablets, TV, etc.) for an hour before you go to sleep.
Do something relaxing before bed to help you transition into a restful sleep (read a book, take a warm bath, take up nighttime yoga, etc.). Make sure your bedroom is set up with optimal sleep conditions (find your ideal sleeping temperature, get a pillow that’s designed specifically for your sleeping position, etc.).
And finally, avoid drinking that nightcap before hitting the hay as it can disrupt your sleep cycles, leading to a poor night’s rest.
Your Body’s Circadian Rhythm
Your body’s circadian rhythm, or your internal clock, is influenced by the environment, behavior, and medications. Here we will focus on the environment and behavior.
The primary environmental cue is light. When we spring forward, it may now be dark when you wake up in the morning to start the day. Morning light is a strong circadian cue that serves as an “alerting” signal to your body that it is time to wake up.
On the flip side, your body produces melatonin when it is dark which helps you stay asleep. Not having natural light flood your bedroom may make it more difficult to adjust to the time change.
Behavior also affects our circadian rhythm as we are creatures of habit. Going to bed at the same time on a daily basis helps you get quality sleep.
When Daylight Saving Time rolls around, do you sacrifice an hour of sleep or try to go to bed one hour earlier than usual? If you lose an hour of sleep, you may feel groggy the next day. If you try to go to bed earlier, you may have trouble falling asleep. We will offer some tips later to help you with this dilemma and ease the transition during the time change.
Think of Daylight Saving Time as you do when you are changing time zones after a flight. The principal reason that many individuals struggle with jet lag is because your body’s internal clock struggles with shifts in sleep hours and routines.
[Related: Natural Approaches to Avoid Snoring]
The Importance of Quality Sleep
The importance of sleep plays an important role in your day-to-day functioning and your overall health. Studies have shown that sleep impacts your metabolism, memory, mental and physical capabilities, stress level, and much more. Symptoms of lack of sleep, on the other hand, can lead to unfavorable consequences such as daytime sleepiness, reduced concentration, mood disturbances, headaches, increased appetite, decreased immune function, and more.
A general rule of thumb is that it takes one day to adjust to a one hour shift in time. However, there is a wide range in how individuals react to shifts in time so some people struggle to a much higher degree than others. To ease the transition, we have several tips to maintain healthy sleep habits through Daylight Saving Time.
Maintaining Sleep Habits
It may be difficult for you to fall asleep one hour earlier than usual to make up for the “lost hour” as we spring forward. If that’s the case, it may be best to adjust your sleep schedule in more manageable chunks as recommended by the Cleveland Clinic .
On the Thursday before Daylight Saving Time, go to sleep and wake up 20 minutes earlier than usual. Repeat this process on both Friday and Saturday. As a result, you have now made up the one hour of sleep lost in twenty-minute increments.
There are also many sleep habits that apply not only during Daylight Saving Time, but year-round. Most adults need eight to nine hours of sleep every night so make sure to schedule enough sleep.
Other tips we recommend include limiting the use of electronics before bed, taking a hot shower, keeping work activities away from the bedroom, wearing a sleep mask, and reducing caffeine intake in the evening. For more insight on getting quality sleep, check out our blog on the topic.
An Indication of a Sleep-Related Disorder?
If you struggle to get quality sleep year-round rather than only around Daylight Saving Time, this may be an indication of a more serious sleep-related disorder. An estimated 15% of the U.S. population suffers from some type of sleep-related disorder, with the most common types being snoring and sleep apnea .
The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is a great screening tool to evaluate for potential sleep-related disorders. Take the questionnaire on our website to see where you fall. If you are having trouble sleeping, we can help! Discuss how your sleeping habits with us today so we can identify what is going on and offer the right solution.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lack of Sleep
Can Lack of Sleep Cause Dizziness?
Dizziness isn’t the most common symptom of lack of sleep, but it can happen. If you’re suffering from fatigue due to lack of sleep, you may also experience dizziness, light-headedness, and an inability to focus.
Can Lack of Sleep Cause Yellow Eyes?
When something is wrong with your body, for example, a severe lack of sleep, you might notice discoloration in the whites of your eyes. In several sleep studies, a slight yellowing of the eye lens this absorbs blue light was linked with sleep disorders.
Can Lack of Sleep Cause Hair Loss?
Lack of sleep can cause stress, which in turn, can also cause temporary hair loss. It can also exacerbate genetic hair loss in bot men and women.
Can Sleep Deprivation Cause Nausea?
Sleep deprivation can contribute to feeling sick to the stomach. While sometimes nausea can be a symptom of underlying illness, many people experience this side effect due to to little sleep.
Can Lack of Sleep Cause Flu-Like Symptoms?
So, can lack of sleep cause fever and chills, and other symptoms of the flu? The answer is that it might actually just be the flu or a cold. Since lack of sleep can negatively impact your immune system, it’s easier for you to get sick from a virus like the common cold. It can also make it harder to recover from an illness.
Can Lack of Sleep Cause Seizures?
Seizures are sensitive to sleep patterns, so poor sleep can trigger an episode, especially if you’re already prone to seizures.
How Does Lack of Sleep Affect Risk of Injury?
Since lack of sleep can make you easily distracted, dizzy, and just not feeling your best, it might put you at risk for injuries and accidents. If you’re having a hard time sleeping, avoid driving cars or putting yourself in a busy environment.
Can Lack of Sleep Cause Anxiety or Panic Attacks?
Lack of sleep can trigger and overstimulate the stress response in your central nervous system. This will make anxiety and panic worse, especially if you can’t stop thinking of sleeping, and trying without success to get some shut-eye.
Can Lack of Sleep Cause Diarrhea?
Sleep deprivation can cause many health issues, including an upset stomach. This can led to abdominal pain, gas, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Can Lack of Sleep Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?
The primary reason for swollen lymph nodes is a bacterial or viral infection. Therefore, while lack of sleep can cause a bacterial or viral infection that can lead to swollen lymph nodes, there is no direct relation.
Connect with Dr. Pasha Today!
Struggling with sleep apnea, snoring, or symptoms of lack of sleep? We’ve got plenty of options for you. Take back your sleep (so you can throw that game-winning pass) by discussing your lack of sleep with Dr. Pasha and his team. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more updates!