Springing ahead can mean sleep interruption

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Spring forward—we’re going back on daylight time this weekend.

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That often means sleep interruption, for adults and babies alike, and ironically, March is sleep awareness month.

Friday, March 18 is World Sleep Day.

The sleep experts at nanit — a baby monitor (plus app) that lets you watch baby in her crib and also track health, wellness and development — know how stressful an infant’s sleep habits can be.

When the baby doesn’t sleep, no one else does.

Nanit gathers data about infant sleep habits globally. For example, the total sleep time for Canadian babies averages 10.1 hours; the average is 10.05 in the United States, 9.9 in the United Kingdom and 9.57 in Australia.

In the US, Canada and the UK, suburban babies sleep longer than babies in urban areas. Surprisingly, babies in rural areas sleep even less than those in urban areas.

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Babies who fall asleep with a pacifier generally require more attention in the night than those who don’t use a pacifier. And the sleep quality of parents has a significant statistical correlation with total sleep time of their infants.

Parents who reported very poor sleep quality had infants who slept on average 8.88 hours a night; the babies of parents who reported very good sleep quality slept an average of 10.37 hours a night.

Whether you have infants in the house or not, sleep deprivation is tough and it’s dangerous to your health. Ongoing sleep issues are connected to physical and emotional health problemsamong them memory and concentration issues, weight gain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.

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Sleeping well isn’t to be taken lightly.

Dr. Natalie Barnett, director of clinical research at Nanit, offered some tips for adjusting to the changes that come with the one-hour time shift.

For your baby, consider blackout curtains.

“Now that we’re moving one hour ahead, it may still be bright outside when you put your little one to bed, and sunlight can affect your baby’s ability to fall into a deep sleep,” Barnett said.

You can also use a white noise machine.

Both adults and babies can benefit from changing their sleep schedule by 15-minute increments, Barnett said. Trying to recover the whole hour of sleep all at once is a bit more difficult.

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For adults and older kids, Barnett advises cutting off screens at least an hour before bed.

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“The light coming from electronics can affect melatonin, the hormone that helps your body feel sleepy,” she said. “And with all that’s happening in the world right now, doom scrolling isn’t going to help your mind and body relax, which is important before bedtime.”

What you eat and drink is also relevant. It’s best not to overeat at dinner. And limit alcohol in the evening.

“Even though it may make you feel relaxed, it can make for an interrupted night’s sleep,” Barnett said. “And of course, avoid caffeine in the afternoons or evenings if you can.”

More tips for coping with springing forward came from neuromuscular and neurometabolic specialist and Stay Above Nutrition CEO Mark Tarnopolsky.

He also warned about caffeine and alcohol before bed. And, Tarnopolsky said, certain foods should also be avoided.

“Spicy foods can cause indigestion or acid reflux and will therefore interrupt your sleep,” he said. “Same goes for processed or packaged snacks. We know it affects sleep quality and the length of your sleep.”

If you’re still groggy during the day despite your best sleep efforts, Tarnopolsky said, “you can improve energy with caffeine supplements from natural sources, such as green coffee bean extract, or with vitamin D.”

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