World Sleep Day and Recovery

This week’s blog features an audio companion for anyone who prefers to listen - check out this week’s FlowCast here.

Today is world sleep day and with daylight savings time just passed last week, it’s an important time to think about sleep and getting yourself reset this weekend.

Daylight savings time has become a hotly debated issue because it forces us all to accept a lost hour of sleep when we spring forward and for many of us with already full schedules this means we end up losing that hour altogether.

It may not seem like a big deal but from Matthew Walker’s research which is covered in-depth in his masterpiece on sleep science “Why We Sleep” we don’t properly catch up when we’ve accumulated a sleep debt by sleeping more later.

Sleep is an essential part of the circadian rhythm and as such requires diligent daily, not weekly, attention. Something astounding that Walker talks about in his book is that the incidence of heart attacks skyrockets the Monday following the spring forward in DST and plummets when we get an extra hour of sleep when we fall back an hour.

This doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to have a heart attack because you lost an hour of sleep last weekend but from many people I’ve talked to this week, the change affects us all in subtle ways. The sudden shift in when the sun rises and sets, the sense of feeling the need to catch up all week, it’s kind of a funny feeling.

So what can we do about it?

Matthew Walker might suggest that we can’t make up for a sleep debt but getting an extra hour of sleep or recovery time for World Sleep Day or anytime this weekend can help to get you back on track still in my mind. Take a nap, spend an hour recharging in a float tank, get outside for a quiet walk in nature, turn off all of your devices and go to bed an hour early.

The quick transition of Daylight Saving’s Time is additional stress on all of us. Life is a constant balance of stress and recovery, sympathetic and parasympathetic - yin and yang. Out of respect for World Sleep Day, if you didn’t spend the March Break somewhere relaxing, take an extra hour to do something rejuvenating this weekend and perhaps start to make it a routine - but that’s a whole other topic for another day.