Does changing time have your body clock messed up?

Every year the same thing happens in the US – in the autumn people are happy for an extra hour of sleep when the clocks change and every spring it’s a pain when you lose an hour of sleep due to the time change.

The funny thing is, your body tends to still wake you up at the same time in the fall and wants you to sleep until the same time in the spring.  It’s the topic of conversation at home, work, radio and tv shows, etc.  You can do something to help with this and end up getting better sleep.

You can basically do a reset of your body clock and get better overall sleep through the use of melatonin.   This post will highlight the benefit of melatonin in general and how it can help you reset your body clock more quickly, whether it is because of a seasonal time change, or travel to another time zone.

What is melatonin?  Melatonin is a substance that your body naturally produces (in melatonin 5mgthe pineal gland in your brain) to help regulate the sleep/wake cycles.  It is inexpensive, readily available, and effective from any corner drugstore, health food store, or from online sources.  I recommend a dissolvable or sublingual lozenge.  Some people find that a time-release formula works better for through-the-night sleep.

It is best to start with a small dose and work up from there – you may not require much for it to be effective (2, 3 or 5mg).  With drastic time changes, it may take a bit more to help do the initial reset of your body clock.  Many people find that they can back down your dosage once the re-establish healthy sleep patterns.  This can also be a great benefit when traveling, especially if you have changed time zones.

Side effects – typically none, though many people report that they experience more vivid dreams than normal.  Also, make sure you don’t take melatonin during daytime hours as it will make you tired and will tend to throw off your normal body clock.  Also, keep in mind that melatonin is not able to make up for lack of or too little sleep.

For more on sleep, make sure you check out the posts on healthy sleep part1 and healthy sleep part 2.
Do you have questions about melatonin or anything related to a healthy lifestyle?  Use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.

Healthy sleep – part 2

This is the second part of a series on sleep, why it’s an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and things you can do to ensure that you’re getting good quality sleep so that your body can do it’s necessary repair and maintenance.
Make sure you check out Healthy Sleep part 1 if you haven’t already done so.

Try to avoid sleeping pills or medications designed to make you fall asleep.  These are not really promoting healthy sleep, carry unknown long-term risks, and have side effects and risks of their own.  It has also been observed that the sleep patterns and rem cycles are different when using medications to induce sleep.  When  you were a child and you could fall asleep anywhere, and sleep through just about anything and awoke rested and refreshed.   It wasn’t  generally because you had enough sleep medication in your system – and that same  thing is true now.  Sleep medication can “put you out” at night, but it’s not the same as regular sleep.

Do consider using melatonin as a sleep aid if you are at least 21 years of age or older and have difficulty regularly falling and staying asleep.  Melatonin is a substance that your body naturally produces (in the pineal gland in your brain) to help regulate the sleep/wake cycles.  It is inexpensive, readily available, and effective.  Start with a small dose and work up from there – you may not require much for it to be effective.  Some people also find that they can back down your dosage once you establish healthy sleep patterns.  Melatonin can also be helpful when traveling – taken at bedtime at your destination – to reinforce the signal to the brain that it’s time from sleep – and to help set and regulate the new sleep cycle, especially if you have changed time zones.

If possible, try to create a sleep environment that is quiet and has total darkness. This helps the eye/brain signals reinforce that it is sleep time.  Light (as in the sunrise) is a signal to the brain that it is time to be awake.  Even low level lights like nightlights or the lights from digital clocks can interfere with this process. Studies have shown that your body does detect these sources of light and it does affect sleep cycles.  Ideally, you should remove nightlights, cover the lights from digital clocks and cover and LEDs that may be on cellphone chargers or power switches.  Your goal is to sleep to have as dark a sleeping environment as possible. This may also involve using light blocking shades or drapes over the windows.  You will probably find that as a result you will have deeper, uninterrupted sleep.

What about the temperature?  Too hot or too cold is a problem, though most people find that a slightly cool environment is conducive to good sleep.  Your body will naturally heat you up in the morning when it’s time to get up, as this is a part of the natural sleep cycle.  Don’t be surprised if you’re ready to throw back the sheets or covers in the morning when you wake up, even if you do keep your bedroom on the cooler side.

Finally, try to avoid going to bed on a full stomach, or drinking very much alcohol right before bedtime.  Either of these can interfere with proper sleep cycles and make the difference between getting up in the morning feeling fully rested and refreshed, or having to drag yourself, feeling tired, out of bed in the morning.

Questions, comments, or want to find out more about this post or something else?
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Healthy Sleep

Have you ever stopped to consider the importance of sleep as a part of a healthy lifestyle?  It is important that you get good sleep on a regular basis; this is when your body does much of it’s necessary repair and maintenance.  Let’s look at a few important factors regarding sleep.

When you are getting enough sleep, you will generally wake up refreshed and energized – not having to drag yourself out of bed.  If you establish a pattern of consistently good sleep, you may find that you tend to wake up about the same time every day – even without an alarm clock (presuming that you go to bed at the same time every day and that you allow enough sleep time for your body to properly refresh). If you feel like you’re falling asleep while your having breakfast – you’re not there yet!!


Proper sleep will also give your immune system a boost and will put you in a better mood and state of mind.  Some people find that when they finally change their lifestyle to allow for a proper amount of sleep that chronic headaches go away.  It can also have a positive effect on weight loss, as lack of sleep is another factor that can raise certain hormones that will tend to cause weight gain or impede weight loss.


How long should you sleep?  This is different for everyone, but 8 hours is actually a pretty good target.  If you fall asleep quickly once you go to bed, you may find that it’s closer to 7½ hours than 8 since we tend to sleep in 1½ hour long sleep cycles, or multiples of 1½ hours.  Some people may find that 6 hours  works best.  You’ll know that you are getting the proper amount of sleep if you awaken refreshed, without having to drag yourself out of bed.  You will also find that in times of stress or illness your body will require more sleep – let it!  This is also true if you are pushing your exercise or fitness routines to a new level.  Getting enough sleep is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle.  This is when your body does much of it’s repair work – and in today’s world you need repairing and refreshing!  Think of it as a nightly overhaul and tuneup and you may start to think about sleep differently than you do now.  You can’t shortcut this and stay in optimal health.


Try to establish regular sleep patterns.  This means going to bed and getting up at the same time most every day; strive for this as your goal.  Hectic schedules and “the stuff of life” may force occasional exceptions, but try to make them just that.  If you can establish a pattern for the time that you typically go to bed and when you get up, you’ll have an easier time falling asleep; this will become part of your body’s’ natural daily rhythm (part of your healthy lifestyle).  You may also find that you don’t have the need or desire to “sleep in” on the weekends, because if you establish normal healthy sleep patterns, you’ll tend to wake up the same time every day, feeling rested and refreshed.

More information in Healthy Sleep part 2

Questions, comments, or want to find out more?  Leave me a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.