A bit like the growth or development of a child, the days also get longer for them little by little, every day a little, and only when you “raise your head” can you notice the changes. But every year, on the last weekend of March, Thursday night comes and we switch to summer time at once, although we sleep an hour less, but gain another hour of light in the evening. In order to understand how this affects us, we turned To Dr. Moti Levythe chief physician of Klalit Complementary Medicine.
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Levy explains that “in contrast to the transition to winter time, which is accompanied by a feeling of depression, the spring transition actually produces better feelings of optimism. But such a transition, like every transition and change in life, does not always “pass smoothly” and requires from the parents among us, as well as from some people, a period of adjustment.
How can the transition be made easier?
“Especially with the help of a deeper understanding of our biological clock and the rhythms that characterize the human body.”
According to Levy, all of nature lives according to biological rhythms such as: sleep-wake, hormone secretion, heartbeat, breathing, ovulation and flowering. There are two types of rhythms:
1. Rhythms that depend on environmental conditions such as day and night changes or seasons
2. Other independent internal rhythms that are not dependent
How calibrated is our biological clock to what is happening on Earth?
“We will demonstrate this with the help of a spectacular experiment: researchers have shown that a plant placed in total darkness, without changes in temperature and environment, will continue to open and close its flowers in a rhythm of approximately 24 hours. Their conclusion from the experiment was that the plant has an internal clock that organizes all the internal rhythms of the body whose job it is to prepare the systems The internals prepare for the changes that are about to happen even before they appear (the body will secrete a hormone that stimulates the activity already before first light to prepare the body for a new day)”.
Man and the biological clock
Dr. Levy explains that “every person has a biological clock that serves as a regulating and timing mechanism for a significant part of the body’s functioning throughout the day, through determining the rate of hormone secretion processes that affect biochemical, physiological and mental processes. The biological clock coincides with the cycle of the day and is affected by the changes between light and darkness and the more its cycle corresponds to the day, the better our function.
The western man who lives in the city is often completely cut off from nature, he lives in closed and air-conditioned rooms and is not really connected to the seasons and the hours of daylight. Despite this, the internal rhythms of the biological clock are synchronized with day and night – darkness and light, and the body will secrete melatonin (a sleep-promoting hormone) when darkness comes and this secretion will intensify later to enable better and deeper sleep. Our internal biological clock is a very complex mechanism that synchronizes a lot of activities that happen in the body at the same time without us feeling it: hormone secretion, blood pressure regulation, heart rate changes and more.”
He further points out that “the current lifestyle based on artificial lighting and living in closed spaces most of the day and it may disrupt the operation of the biological clock. If these occur we may see a significant increase in the risk of accidents, outbreaks of diseases, an increase in the risk of hyperactivity, sleep disruptions and even Changes in behavior such as a tendency to anger and outbursts of rage.”
What should be done to connect the internal clock to the external one?
“The best way to achieve balance and prevent diseases is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. One of the components of this lifestyle is adopting a day and night rhythm, sleeping well at night and being awake during the day. In addition, it is recommended to make sure that the children’s bedroom (and yours too) does not have LED lighting installed that deceives the eye “The human eye causes premature aging of the retina and inhibits the secretion of the sleep hormone. You should also avoid screens of any kind an hour or two before going to bed and make sure you get sufficient hours of sleep according to your age and health.”
Recommended sleeping hours:
• For babies and children up to the age of 5, it is recommended to sleep 11 hours at night and about an hour and a half during the day.
• For children aged: 5-11, 10-11 hours of sleep are recommended.
• For children aged: 12-14, 9-10 hours of sleep is recommended.
• For teenagers aged: 14-18, it is recommended to sleep between 8.5 and 9.5 hours.
• Adults are recommended to sleep between 7 and 9 hours
What do the people who work at night and sleep during the day do?
“Such people are advised to seek treatment to help the body cope with the stress associated with such a significant damage to the natural rhythm. Today, there is a very large variety of treatments from the world of complementary medicine that can help with this: touch therapies (massage, shiatsu reflexology, etc.), acupuncture, biofeedback naturopathy, and more – The role of all of these is to facilitate everything related to relaxation and to assist in getting to sleep better.”
Parents of children – what do you do before the clock goes down?
“It should be noted that there is no single action that can help with this, and this is because it is not a matter of changing consciousness but of internal and uncontrollable mechanisms. What do we do? Perform actions that will simulate darkness earlier and create a more relaxed and inviting sleeping environment. Let’s take for example a child up to the age of 5 who needs to sleep as At least 11 hours. If it’s bedtime for you, the parents, but the sun is still shining, you can create a sleeping atmosphere at home: darken the house, turn off the flickering screens, create a calm atmosphere, serve dinner at an earlier time, and observe the familiar bedtime ritual with the little ones every evening. For children who have more difficulty than others, we also recommend to turn to complementary treatments whose main purpose will be to create internal relaxation in the children, and contact treatments will usually be the preferred option, when sometimes we will offer to combine homeopathic treatment or Chinese medicine treatments such as Shonishin (acupuncture without needles for children )”.
Dr. Moti Levy (Photo: Natan Cohen Yonatan)