Sleep expert says we should stick to Standard Time

UAB Sleep expert
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 8:28 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 8:42 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Because its the first week of Daylight Saving Time, you may be struggling to get all the sleep you need.

Getting enough sleep is critical according to Dr. Justin Thomas, who runs UAB’s Sleep Medicine Clinic.

“We’re finding that sleep affects all sorts of physical functions,” says Thomas. “It affects our mood, our cardiovascular health. And so we’ve learned within the last five to 10 years how strong those effects can be. And that sleep can be a very powerful way of reducing some of these negative health outcomes that we see. We even see sleep impacts on immune function,” he explains.

Thomas suggests cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, which includes things like stretching or breathing exercises before bed, or doing a simple activity in dim light if you wake up in the middle of the night.

Since the FDA does not regulate over-the-counter sleep aids, Dr. Thomas says it is essential to know you may not getting what you think you are.

“There was a paper published in 2017 where they looked at 31 over-the-counter melatonin supplements and found that the, the actual content of the melatonin ranged from like 83% less than the dose on the box to like 479% more than a dose,” he says.

Thomas suggests looking for a USP label on the bottle, which means it is subject to a random test by U.S. pharmacopeia.

Thomas also supports ending our annual time changes, but he says we should keep Standard Time, since it is more in line with our circadian rythms.

“We’re still gonna have longer days in the summer and shorter days in the winter,” says Thomas. “But where the sun is at would be more in line with, with our bodies and, we actually find better health outcomes on standard time than we do daylight saving time.”

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