For some, losing an hour of sleep is a truly lamentable thought -- and if sleep is already a struggle for you, springing forward can be the perfect set-up to get completely thrown off-track. Personally, I love Spring and Summer, so I am pleased to welcome longer days, blooming plants, and chirping birds. That said, it can still take a week or more to get adjusted to time changes; it often feels a bit like jet-lag to me.
Generally speaking, change of season is the optimal time to get an acupuncture treatment. While it's not Spring according to the calendar, our bodies will inherently start to notice the change. And if we do not have the luxury of sleeping in or naturally allowing for a window of re-adjustment, acupuncture will aid in this process, especially by helping to balance and regulate hormones. Just about EVERY facet of our bodily functions are regulated by hormones -- and sleep is no exception. Melatonin is a popular supplement these days for a reason: it's secreted in larger amounts as bedtime approaches. In the morning, cortisol rises to help perk us up and get us going, while melatonin naturally decreases.
Try to stay within 30 minutes of your typical wake and sleep times, even with the time change. So, if you normally go to bed at 9:30pm and rise at 6am, go to bed at 9pm and get up no later than 6:30am. After a week or so, you should be able to start to push this out by 15 minutes, and eventually to the same time before springing forward. It may seem insignificant, but time changes can cause an increase in car accidents, heart issues, and work-related injuries, so do your best to make sleep a priority.
Exercise is pretty much the go-to for whatever ails ya! In this case, exercise and movement helps promote serotonin and endorphins (which, incidentally, acupuncture also does), increases blood circulation, improves metabolism, and exercising outdoors during daytime hours gives an added boost to regulating circadian rhythms -- your inherent sleep/wake cycle.
How's your diet? Lots of leafy green vegetables, especially slightly bitter ones (think dandelion, mustard greens, etc.) will naturally calm tension. How so? According to Chinese medical thought, a slightly bitter taste moves "stuck" energy. So if you're feeling sluggish or irritable with the time change or lack of sleep, up your veggie intake. Lightly stir-frying or sauteeing is best for optimal digestion, so skip the smoothies.
Look on the bright side! I know there might be some whining and complaining over losing some sleep -- personally I wish we didn't have to go through this tradition twice a year. But the arrival of longer days and warmer weather is certainly something to welcome! Here's to your health! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky.
*Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine is a wellness clinic that provide guidance and treatment within the legal scope of practice as regulated by the Kentucky State Board Of Acupuncture. Our advice is not a substitute for medical advice from a physician, and we do not diagnose medical conditions. Please consult a physician before beginning any exercise or diet program.*
About the Author:
Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist, currently practicing in the gorgeous, horse capital of the world: Lexington, Kentucky.