For a nation that is chronically sleep deprived, this weekend’s extra hour in the form of “fall back” on our clocks is a gift except when 5 o’clock hits and it’s pitch black outside. The extra hour of sleep affects our circadian clocks as we readjust to it, just as our jet-lagged bodies would from traveling across time zones. Our circadian clocks, our internal time-keeping system affects everything from our metabolism to our gut microbiome and they are very interrelated. Here are a couple of suggestions for staying in sync with your circadian clock to maximize your health:
1) Even if your circadian clock is not in sync, following a time-restricted diet—where you only eat within an eight to twelve hour window may help with weight control or management. Intermittent fasting falls in the same genre as time-restricted dieting, with the exception that it looks at the time between one meal to the next and usually recommends a waiting time of 12-14 hours from the night time meal to the morning one.
2) With the holidays in almost full swing, it seems difficult to add extra sleep to the already hectic and packed schedules. Not sleeping affects our resting metabolic rates, which means that we burn fewer calories when we are sleep-deprived. It’s also easy to get into a cyclical pattern—if you are up past your designated natural bedtime, people tend to rummage for snacks, then can’t sleep as well making them search for extra reinforcements the next day. If you are up past your regular bedtime, eliminate snacking to reset yourself for the next day and try and wait at least eight hours before your next meal or snack.