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Don't Sacrifice Sleep When You Spring Forward for Daylight Saving

Posted on Mar 6, 2012 ( comments)
Are you ready? It will be time to “spring forward” and change from standard to daylight savings time on March 11.

When we are robbed of an hour of time by moving the clocks forward one hour, what does it really mean for our health and sleep?

Some people have a hard time adjusting to the change because they sacrifice that hour by eliminating an hour of sleep. We are already a sleep deprived society, so making the lack of sleep worse can be detrimental. A 2009 study found that the return to daylight savings time in the spring resulted in an increase in workplace injuries the day after the time change was made. The increase in injuries was attributed to sleep loss. Employees slept on average 40 minutes less after losing the hour of time.

How can you prepare yourself?

  • Try gradually making the change a few days before the time change. Because you are going to get up an hour earlier, you have to go to bed an hour earlier. Go to bed incrementally earlier a few nights before the actual change on Saturday.
  • Get a full night of sleep during the change in time
  • Try to wake up at your normal time on the first day of daylight savings time (Sunday)
  • Try not to nap, especially on the first day (Sunday) of the time change
  • Go to bed at your regularly scheduled bedtime on Sunday

Other helpful hints:

  • Don’t short-change yourself on sleep. The average adult needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night
  • Practice good sleep hygiene. Create a conducive sleep environment that is cool, dark and quiet. Have a good quality bed and pillow. Reserve the bedroom for only sleep and sex. Try not to eat, watch TV, or work on the in bed. “Unplug” from social networking. Put the cell phone in another room.
  • Try not to drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages before bed.

For more information about sleep and health, visit the National Sleep Foundation on line (www.sleepfoundation.org)

Kimberly Mebust, MD is Executive Medical Director of MultiCare Health System Sleep Disorders Centers.

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