Dr. Mitch can only provide general medical insights. He cannot counsel you on your own particular case. Information about a specific individual's medical condition can only properly be managed by a health care professional who has examined that person and done a proper evaluation. Furthermore, Dr. Mitch will not be able to respond to individual requests for referral or diagnosis or management or to provide a second opinion. His intent is to help people know more about medicine and science so that they can ask their health care professional the right questions and make more informed decisions with respect to their health. You should consult with your health care professional before following any of Dr. Mitch's advice to confirm that it is appropriate for you.

 

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream?

or how to recover from DST and sleep deprivation in general

It's hard to believe but just that single hour of less sleep is enough to tip people over the edge. We can count on more workplace accidents, more car accidents and even possibly more heart attacks in the immediate aftermath of our leap ahead.
 
Why?
This actually has to do more with the fact that most of us are chronically sleep deprived. Studies show that adults need about 7 - 8 hours of good sleep each night to be healthy.  Unfortunately, most of us do not get that amount of sleep and that has serious medical consequences. Aside from the lack of focus, inattention and falling asleep behind the wheel or at work, sleep deprivation increases the risk of cancer, infections like pneumonia, diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure and depression.
 
What can you do about it?
In the short term, as we deal with the change to Daylight Saving Time, try to get to bed an hour earlier and to cut back on your workload to give yourself time to adjust. 
To help your natural body clock reset, expose yourself to bright sunlight early in the day. If you can, go for a walk in the morning or at lunch time. Exercise early in the day especially while being exposed to the sun is particularly helpful.
 
Long Term
Make certain there isn't an underlying medical issue causing you to toss and turn at night. Sleep apnea, where the airway collapses many times during the night rousing the person out of a deep slumber without necessarily fully awakening them, is an important cause. You may be told that you are snoring. Your partner may even see you stop breathing temporarily and startle in your sleep. Many mornings you may wake up exhausted and with a headache. A sleep lab can confirm the diagnosis and there is treatment that works.
Similarly if you eat a meal too close to bedtime, an upset stomach can keep you up as can caffeine too late in the day. Nicotine by the way does the same thing because contrary to what many smokers believe, it is a stimulant.
If worry is keeping you up, get out of bed and write down all the things that are bothering you and what you are going to do about them.
Stop watching TV or playing videogames and get away from your emails when it's getting close to bedtime. These activities keep your brain on overdrive when what you need is to let it relax so you can sleep. Also, be careful about leaving your cell phone or other lights on in the room when you sleep. Even if you aren't aware of it, the light is picked up by your brain and interferes with your sleep. Blue light is especially bad.
 
Having trouble sleeping can happen to normal people from time to time, but if sleeplessness persists and you've tried all these suggestions don't turn to over the counter sleep aids for long-term help. Most of them are medicines intended for other conditions. They are being used here because they have drowsiness as a side effect! Instead, you should be assessed by a health care professional to make certain that there isn't some underlying health condition that needs to be managed more appropriately. It's worth the effort because a good night's sleep is one of the best investments you can make towards your health.

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