Do We Really Lose / Gain Sleep?
It happens every year: the dreaded spring morning when 2am comes around but immediately changes to 3am and we “lose” an hour of sleep. Mondays are hard enough as it is. But do we really lose and gain an hour of sleep?
Researchers are now finding that no, we actually don’t gain or lose time asleep. What does happen, however, is a disrupted sleep cycle that can take a week to get back on track.
Our bodies are wired to function according to something called a circadian rhythm. Essentially, the daily cycling of light and dark causes hormone shifts that affect our behavioral, mental, and physical changes throughout the day. These rhythms are on a 24-hour cycle, guided by the sun’s light.
For example, morning sunlight has more “blue” light in it - a quality that computer monitors, tv’s, and phone screens share - which signals to the brain that it is time to “wake up.” This is why researchers say that to get a good night’s sleep, you should avoid watching tv, looking at your phone, or working on the computer at least one hour before bedtime. Evening sunlight, by contrast, has “red” light in it. This signals that it is time to wind down and prepare to sleep, which is why it is recommended that people use light bulbs that emit “yellow-” or “red-”light in bedroom lamps.
When we come to Daylight Savings Time, our bodies become dysregulated because we alter our sleep-wake cycle. Even just a one hour change can completely throw off our circadian rhythms, potentially leading to restless sleep, earlier wake-ups, or difficulty falling asleep for several days the following week1.
Why is Sleep So Important?
Many of us, if asked, would agree that we are “stressed out,” or that “the job is stressful,” or
“the kids are stressing me out.”
This is a very good example of chronic stress.
Chronic stress, or stress that extends over a long period of time, is not uncommon in today’s society; however, it is not something we should overlook. While some stress is beneficial (“fight-or-flight” is an example of acute stress, a defense mechanism meant to keep us safe), chronic stress can have adverse effects on our cardiovascular, immune, neuroendocrine, and central nervous systems2.
A natural way to restore optimal health and support resilience in the face of chronic stress is to engage in restful activities, especially sleep.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch conducted and synthesized a survey on sleep deprivation and published six reasons to get enough sleep:
The National Sleep Foundation has also published an infographic detailing sleep requirements by age.
Healthy Sleep Habits to Adopt
In order to get the most out of your sleep, it is very important to establish a bedtime ritual for yourself. This ritual, or what becomes known as “bedtime boundaries,” subconsciously signals to your brain that it is time to begin winding down and preparing for sleep4.
Many of these are very simple practices that won’t add a great amount of time to our bedtime routines but will drastically change the quality of our sleep.
So...do we really lose or gain sleep during daylight savings time? The consensus seems to be no. However, it is possible to allay the effects of dysregulated circadian rhythms by understanding the importance of rest and how it affects our physiology, as well as practicing healthy sleep habits to proactively take care of our brains and overall health!
Even though we live in the Golden State, replete with brilliant sunsets & 80 degree winters, most of us are deficient in vitamin D. Would you believe that up to 90% of adults in the United States are believed to have a vitamin D deficiency?
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Vitamin D is different from other vitamins in that our body makes most of our vitamin D on its own and, in the process, transforms it into a hormone. This hormone, in turn, supports our skeletal muscle structure, blood pressure, immunity, mood, brain function, and ability to protect ourselves from cancer.
There are two types of supplemental Vitamin D: D2 and D3. Out of the two, D3 is believed to be the most beneficial, since this is the type of vitamin D that our bodies naturally produce. Vitamin D3 is called cholecalciferol. Unfortunately, the majority of vitamin D-fortified foods and supplements contain vitamin D2, which is called ergocalciferol. This type of vitamin D2 is difficult for the body to use efficiently and, as most people try to get their vitamin D in this manner, is probably why we see such a large deficiency nationwide.
Why Care about Vitamin D?
Vitamin D plays a vital and multisystemic role in the body. It is necessary for calcium absorption into the bones, and it helps protect against cancer and heart disease as well. Maintaining the correct levels within your blood can also help prevent diabetes, as vitamin D supplementation can increase insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation. Vitamin D is commonly low in people who suffer from anxiety and depression and appropriate levels are needed to achieve optimal cognitive function.
The Sun & Vitamin D
When UVB rays touch your skin, a chemical reaction takes place: your body initiates the process of converting a prohormone in the skin into vitamin D. Once formed, the vitamin heads towards your liver, where the body begins to metabolize it. From the liver it travels to the kidney and there it converts to a hormone the body can use.
Experts recommend that those with darker skin tones receive up to 40 minutes of rich exposure each day. If your skin is much fairer, about 10 minutes is recommended. In the winter it is suggested that you double your exposure. Not only is the amount of time important, however, but the time of day you go out is key as well. The time when the rays will be most effective is between 10am-3pm, when the sun is highest in the sky and your shadow is shorter than you.
If you are worried about over-exposure, wear sunscreen in delicate areas: your face and hands. Your limbs, if exposed, should be left vulnerable to the sun’s UVB rays in order to create the proper amount of vitamin D. Astonishingly, recent research shows that wearing sunblock of SPF 8 or higher actually reduces your body’s ability to make vitamin D3 by 90%.
A blood test is the only way to find out if you have a deficiency. The Next|Health Baseline test can give you a 10,000 foot view of what is going on in your body right now, including your Vitamin D levels.
Supplement Your Vitamin D
As much as we recommend you embrace the natural and best way to absorb vitamin D by spending time outdoors, we sometimes lead busy lives that rob us of those opportunities. At Next|Health, we can help through our robust new VIT D intramuscular injection. IM’s are a quick and effective method to boost your levels, depending on your specific needs and deficiencies. We also recommend our Next|Health Vitamin D Supplement to help maintain your Vitamin D level.
Dr. Darshan Shah is a physician, surgeon, entrepreneur, and is considered by many to be the "Doctor of the Future." His passion is educating the public on the newest technologies in health & wellness and how to look and feel your best!