Preparing to lose an hour of sleep

Published 6:08 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My pillow seems to be the key that unlocks the floodgates of my creative juices each night.

From the time my head hits the fluffy cotton-filled square until I actually go to sleep, I seem to get at least one or two good ideas for something. This is great, but like everyone else, I also need a good night’s rest.

Despite the normal groggy grumpiness one usually feels when losing sleep, there are other negative side effects, such as overeating, according to the National Sleep Foundation. 

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Ghrelin and leptin, two hormones that regulate hunger, are affected by sleep. Ghrelin stimulates appetite and leptin decrease it. When the body is sleep deprived, the level of ghrelin increases while the level of leptin falls. This leads to an increased appetitive, according to the NSF. 

Those few extra nights sitting in the office rather than laying in bed can also start a process in the body that raises the blood level of a lipid known as endocannabinoid. This can make eating feel more enjoyable, similar to the hunger side effects of marijuana. The hunger for certain types of food such as cookies, candy and chips also increases. 

This explains my hunger for beer cheese and salt and vinegar chips around 8 p.m. almost every night.

People who do not get enough sleep tend to eat twice as much fat and more than 300 extra calories the next day, compared to those who sleep for eight hours.

The topic of precious sleep is weighing on my mind more in this upcoming week simply because I am preparing — but not particularly happy about — losing an hour of it.

At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 12, it will be time for our clocks to spring forward, leading to the upcoming long lazy summer afternoons.

Though it’s only an hour, the effects can be noticeable. If you’re like me, giving up just one hour of beauty sleep can negatively impact how you feel and function the next day.

The NSF describes the change in time as a mild case of jet lag for some. Our bodys’ internal clock — circadian rhythm — may be thrown off course, which can affect how much sleep-inducing melatonin is released and when.

Currently, I wake up to sunlight pouring into my window around 8 a.m. This is nice because I feel like it helps wake me up. After the time change, the sun will likely be moving at the same pace as I am early in the morning, so it will probably be darker than I’m used to.

These changes can make it harder to get going in the morning and more difficult to turn in at the usual bedtime.

The NSF says within a few days, our brains and bodies should adjust to the new time schedule naturally as our circadian rhythm catches up to the new one hour of less sleep reality.

There are things, however, that we can do to prepare for this darker morning wake-up call, such as going to bed 15 to 20 minutes earlier than usual each night in the days leading up to the time change. If you’re more of a procrastinator, like me, at least turn in a little earlier on the night of the time change to recoup the lost hour of slumber.

If going to bed earlier seems difficult, the NSF also gives several ways to make your bedroom your sleep sanctuary through senses — touch, see, hear, smell and taste.

Basically, make sure the PJs and mattress are comfy, the room is dark with no artificial light such as cell phones and the noise in the room is controlled as much as possible — white noise helps for me. Also, find a pleasant scent such as lavender, which has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure and watch what you eat and drink before bedtime. This means no caffeine.

For all you sleep lovers out there, I bid you good luck and goodnight, as the 2017 time change springs away with an hour of our sleep.