Thanks to daylight saving time (Mar. 14), you will likely miss out on some sleep this week; however, there’s never been a better time to start new habits – your body will thank you

At precisely 2 a.m. on Sunday, Mar. 14, a majority of Americans will transport forward in time, losing an hour of their beloved weekends and likely, 60 minutes of sleep. This isn’t science fiction, rather a century-old societal tradition we have come to know as daylight saving time, which occurs twice per year, seasonally each Fall and Spring.

While there’s much debate over whether daylight saving time still has a place in modern societies worldwide, there’s mounting evidence it may be significantly impacting our health. Because sleep is so essential, especially for those suffering from chronic and acute pain, our team of pain management experts is challenging patients to put extra preparation into daylight savings time this year.

In addition to springing forward clocks on Saturday night or Sunday morning, we are encouraging patients to take this time to examine their current sleep patterns and choose better habits – As part of Sleep Awareness Week (Mar. 14-20). Even small measures to improve sleep can dramatically improve overall health, mood and even reduce pain.

Circadian rhythms & the problem with change

Our bodies rely on an internal clock or circadian rhythm to regulate the function of cells and systems. This rhythm has variations from person to person but generally alerts us with a boost of energy in the morning, causes mid-day grogginess, and finally helps us fall asleep in the evenings. Beyond regulating alertness and energy levels, these circadian rhythms also influence hormone release, eating habits, digestion, body temperature and more.

With so many components of healthy body function connected to our circadian rhythm, even slight changes can wreak havoc. The desynchronization of our body clocks, which occurs twice a year due to daylight saving time or when we don’t get enough sleep, has been linked to increased health risks such as depression, obesity, heart attack, cancer, and even car accidents.

What is a good night’s rest? There’s no one-size solution

According to the Center for Disease Control, more than a third of adults in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep. As previously discussed, this negatively impacts our circadian rhythm and throws our bodies out of balance. Further, those who do not regularly get enough sleep can quickly become victims to sleep deprivation, a form of cognitive impairment that affects memory, motor skills and mood regulation. So, we need more rest, but how much?

The amount of sleep adults need varies but generally changes as you age. During infancy through the teen years, our bodies crave sleep, which powers development. As adults, we typically require seven or more hours per night. What is most important is that hours spent sleeping are good quality.

 Goal Setting – Quality & quantity

 With a target goal of getting approximately seven hours of sleep each night, how can we improve the quality of those hours? This isn’t simple. For those who live with the feeling of waking up tired after a full night of sleep, it can be frustrating or downright demoralizing. If experiencing this, it may be worthwhile to explore several factors:

Finally, consider tracking your sleep through your phone. There is an abundance of phone applications that can monitor habits, sleep quality and even remind you of bedtime hours.

Tips for those in pain

Research has shown a strong indication that sleep is an effective painkiller. However, those suffering from chronic pain are often unable to fall asleep, frequently awaken throughout the night, and generally do not enjoy a high-quality sleep. This compounds fatigue for pain sufferers and can contribute to the development of more severe long-term health conditions.

We’ve examined the importance of sleep, the amount needed each night and how to improve sleep quality; however, this means little unless those in pain can break the cycle of insomnia. For those living with chronic pain and looking to improve their sleep, there are a few things our experts recommend:

If you are experiencing sleep issues because of chronic or acute pain, we encourage you to seek professional medical guidance. Our team of dedicated pain relief specialists can help answer your questions and offer personalized care recommendations to help you rest and play without pain.