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Sleep And Happiness Are Related; Beware Of Daylight Saving Time

With the time change, it’s important to be aware of how sleep and happiness are related.

Sleep and happiness: Who knew?

All of us love an extra hour of daylight in the evening. I did more so as a kid when it meant extra light to play ball or other games in the neighborhood. As we get older though, we tend to go to bed earlier and get up earlier and enjoy waking up to the sun instead of darkness.

The recent time change has a lot of us feeling sleepy, moving more slowly and not thinking as clearly as we normally do.

No matter what we try, we don’t go to bed any earlier with the time change but we still need to get up and go to work, exercise or do other activities that remain on our schedule.

Dr. Robert Rosenberg, an Arizona-based doctor and medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley and author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day: A Doctor’s Guide to Solving Your Sleep Problems, says it’s usually dangerous only the first week because our circadian clock tends to be able to adjust after a week.

“It’s a form of jet lag,” Rosenberger says. “If you travel to England after three to five days you adjust and that’s a six-hour time change. Now, we’re talking about one hour. For those of us older 50 there’s an increased incidence of motor vehicle accidents in the first week of Daylight Savings Time, and there are increased incidents in heart attacks as well as compared to the rest of the year. It’s probably due to the sleep deprivation.”

The people who seem to struggle the most are the ones getting only borderline amounts of sleep, Rosenberg says. If you have someone sleeping less than seven hours of sleep and because of work they lose another hour of sleep because of Daylight Savings Times and now they’re trying to function on five hours of sleep, those are the people most at risk. In addition, those who burn the candle at the both candles on the weekend are at risk as well, he says.

“They stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning and try to get up for work and that extra hour can make a huge difference in the way they feel,” Rosenberg says.

The solution next year is three days before the clock changes, make an effort to go bed 20 minutes earlier and wake up at the time that would be the new Daylight Savings Time, Rosenberg says. If you’re dragging this week, he says you should take nap instead of sleeping longer.

“Sleeping in only screws things up in terms of your circadian cycle,” Rosenberg says. “ All it takes is a 20-minute map because going beyond that you get into deeper stages of sleep and that leaves you dragging, but a 20-minute nap can give your four hours of increased alertness.”

Here’s what Rosenberg says you should do to help your sleep and wellbeing:

A new survey tells us what we already suspected – those who get more hours of sleep feel better about ourselves and our lives than those of us who don’t. Put me in that category. The right amount appears to be eight hours to get that sense of wellbeing before it levels off, according to a Gallup survey of more than 7,000 adults.

On a wellbeing index, those who get only three to four hours of sleep rate their lives at 51. It increases to 56.5 for five hours, 59.4 at six hours, 64.2 at seven hours, and tops at 65.7 at eight hours. It decreases slightly to 64.7 for nine to ten hours.

Now the survey is for all adults from 18 and above, but it does give some insight for those of us older. For those 65 and older, the survey says the peak of what we think about ourselves and our lives is at seven hours instead of eight for those under 65.

For those 30 to 64, the survey says there’s a big difference between those who get five hours of sleep a night instead of six. Those 65 and older don’t have such a big discrepancy in their wellbeing by getting that extra hour, which shows the oldest of us don’t need as much sleep.

The survey shows that those 45 to 64 scored a 55 on the wellbeing index for five hours of sleep and 58.8 for six hours. For those 65 and older, they were both at 63 on the index.

When it comes to seven and eight hours, those 45 to 64 scored a 63.6 and 64.5, respectively. Those 65 and above scored 68.3 for seven hours and dipped to 67.7 for eight hours. Here is the survey:

Gallup researchers say they’re not sure actually about the relationship between sleep and wellbeing. It could either mean getting more sleep boosts the person’s sense of wellbeing or because they feel good about themselves and their life, that’s the reason they get more sleep.

Overall, four in 10 people 18 and older get less of seven hours a sleep a night. How does that break down by age group?

Some 66 percent of those 65 and older get at least seven hours of sleep. The others include 21 percent getting six hours and 13 percent getting five hours or less.

For those 45 to 64, some 57 percent get seven hours or more. Another 26 percent get six hours, 10 percent get five hours, and 8 percent get three to four hours. One percent say they get less than three hours.

For those alive during the 1940s, they won’t need a survey to tell them that as a society we’re getting about one hour less sleep a night than they did back then.

Rosenberg says the National Sleep Foundation says most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep. Even for those older, that standard remains in place and there’s not a need for less sleep, he says. Those who sleep less than seven hours and more than nine hours are more prone to underlying health problems, he says.

“We know that sleep on average less than six hours have problems with cognition, focusing, on moods and have a high risk of high risk of heart attacks and strokes,” Rosenberg says. “We know that people that sleep seven to eight hours or seven to nine hours on average tend to do the best both emotionally and physically in terms of cognitive function. Sleep is a restorative process. The brain does most of its cleaning out of toxins and repair more so during sleep than it does of any other time of the day. We also process emotions during REM sleep and other stages of sleep. Growth hormone are also released during sleep for not only the repair of the brain but tissue and the immune system. For most people, seven to nine hours seems to be the magic number.”

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