At the stroke of midnight on Sunday, we “spring forward” once again. And if you’re like most people, you’re probably thrilled at the prospect of more daylight. Especially if you struggle with seasonal depression like I do.
But if you think this weekend’s time change is going to turn your mood around overnight, I’ve got bad news for you. Research suggests that it could actually have the opposite effect. And today, I want to talk about why this is, and what you can do about it.
A monkey wrench in your mood
It has a lot to do with your circadian rhythm, or as I like to call it, your internal “body clock.” This refers to the biological cycles your body runs through over a 24-hour period. Your circadian rhythm signals major functions in your body, telling it when to eat, digest, sleep, release hormones, breathe, etc.
And as recent as this past November, scientists from around the world gathered at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience to present a handful of studies on the role of circadian rhythms in brain health. And they all underscored the vital importance of consistent sleep-wake cycles among an array of seemingly unrelated brain disorders.
Most notably, they identified some of the neurological changes that underlie anxiety in patients who aren’t getting adequate deep sleep — which suggests that circadian disruptions are a key culprit behind overstressed brains.
They also identified the role of a specific circadian rhythm gene in brain cells called astrocytes — leading them to propose that disruptions in this department trigger brain inflammation and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
But do you know what else has ties to brain inflammation? Depression.
Ultimately, these scientists suggest turning to sleep-focused therapies — with the goal of restoring regularity to the body’s circadian clock — as a potential treatment for brain diseases like anxiety disorder and Alzheimer’s. And I couldn’t agree more.
But for now, let this be a reminder that daylight savings doesn’t always mean happier days ahead. And, in fact, it could spell short-term trouble for your heart health, too…
Heart attack rates “spring ahead” too
Believe it or not, research shows that heart attack rates jump up by nearly 25 percent on the Monday after we “spring ahead” for daylight savings in March.
What’s behind this lethal spike? Scientists propose a mix of factors at play — including the stress of a new work week and the rapid change in routine it represents.
But the mass circadian misalignment triggered by just one lost hour of sleep serves as the lynchpin — proving that even small disruptions in this department can add up to big consequences.
Obviously, you can’t just get a doctor’s note excusing you from the upcoming time change. But forewarned is forearmed. And knowing the danger means you’ll be prepared to enter this transition period.
There are a handful of simple strategies that can keep your body’s clock humming along without a hitch. From basic sleep hygiene — like keeping your room dark at night — to eating specific foods, and getting plenty of sunshine and exercise during the daylight hours.
I’ve cover the ins and outs of circadian alignment — in addition to all-natural strategies for deeper, more consistent sleep — in my Perfect Sleep Protocol. If you’re interested in achieving quality rest to protect your health, I encourage you to click here to learn more or sign up today.
“Disrupted circadian rhythms may drive anxiety and exacerbate brain disorders: New studies reveal critical role of healthy sleep and powerful role of circadian rhythm regulation in the brain.” ScienceDaily, 11/05/2018.