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The Scariest Night of 2020

The Scariest Night of 2020
To say that 2020 has been a fright so far is kind of like saying water is wet.  It has been a total #$@% show – on so many levels. The pandemic, with over a million lives lost, and so many impacted by illness, it’s impact on businesses and the economy as well as on individuals everywhere, from feeling anxious and isolated from loved ones, to risking lives as front liners, to extreme emotional and financial stress.  Compounded by the exposure of the shameful degree to which racism still exists and the silver lining of so many coming together to demand justice.  And then there is the impending election, which while it’s not our election, as Canadians we are extremely invested in the outcome, and generally terrified of a 2016 outcome repeating.
I feel so silly, reflecting on December 31st when we were celebrating the end of 2019 with our bubbly and list of intentions for 2020!


Halloween + Full Moon + Time Change = Yikes!

But this weekend is extra scary.  Not only is it the last weekend before the election, but it’s also Halloween (not a normal one by any means), a rare Blue Moon, and the night most of us leave Daylight Savings time, setting our clocks back by an hour.
October 31st marks the second full moon of October, the first being October 1st, which was the Harvest Moon.  According to the Farmer’s almanac, tomorrow’s full moon is a Hunter’s Blue Moon. The Hunter part refers to the time of year when animals and humans stock up on food for the winter ahead. A blue moon refers not to the colour of the moon, but to it being the second full moon in the same month – which is rare.  And even more rare is for it to happen on All Hallow’s Eve – in fact it only happens about once every 18 or 19 years. And this moon will also be the smallest full moon of 2020 – because it’s the furthest from the earth – so it’s a minimoon as well. 
For centuries people have believed that the moon impacts human behaviour (um, YEAH!), and the term “lunacy” derives from the Latin word lunaticus, or “moonstruck”.  Scientifically there is some debate on why or how this might be so (here’s an interesting little read on it: ), but one theory suggests that disturbances to sleep could be at least part of the equation.
This weekend we’ll combine that with leaving Daylight Savings time, which began at 2AM Sunday, March 8, and ends at 2 AM Sunday November 1st (in most provinces), and which we absolutely know wreaks havoc on sleep. While there has been a lot of talk about making Daylight Savings Time permanent (skipping the “fall back” this year and staying with present time permanently) we will be turning our clocks back as usual.
Changing the clocks obviously doesn’t create more daylight, it just redistributes it.  And while most of us dislike the spring clock change more, any time change disrupts our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm.  Studies show that the risk of accidents (traffic and workplace) as well as heart attacks increases in the three days following the seasonal time change. There is also an increase in the incidence of depression, and even suicide.

Tips for Managing the Time Change

  1. Prepare – use good sleep hygiene the week leading up to a time change to ensure you are getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep prior. It’s always worse if you go into time change already sleep deprived.
  2. Get light exposure during the day, especially in the morning – taking a walk or getting out in natural sunlight is best but if it’s overcast or you need to be inside you may want to invest in a SAD light – a light that mimics the full spectrum of daylight and is a great thing to have near your desk in the darker months. There are lots on the market but if you want a Canadian-made one check out Northern Light Technologies.
  3. Keep your room dark at night – and don’t turn on a light if you get up to use the loo. A sleep mask is a great tool for ensuring darkness. This one from Canadian Essential Oil brand Saje comes with an essential oil roller to help you relax into slumber.
  4. Keep your sleep and wake times consistent – move to the new time right away, but stick to your schedule, especially during the first few days, and shut down electronics and screens at least an hour before bed.
  5. Try a natural sleep aid like Sleep Like Buddha, which contains 5-HTP, a natural precursor to both serotonin (the safe, happy feeling hormone) and melatonin (the circadian rhythm regulating hormone), passionflower (to relax the central nervous system and let you fall and stay asleep, and l-theanine, to calm brain waves and manage racing thoughts. No melatonin, so no groggy mornings.

Wishing you a not-too-scary weekend and hoping you get to enjoy an extra hour of sleep!


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