It’s the time of the year to “spring forward” and that means we will all lose one hour of sleep this coming weekend.
Sleep might be the most underappreciated aspect of health. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, “Sleeping less than seven hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.”
A fair amount of people consider themselves good sleepers and are fairly resilient to the hour loss. These people will recover quickly and feel back to normal within a couple days.
For some people, especially those who already have difficulty sleeping, the hour loss can be quite catastrophic. The time change impacts their daily activities and can lead to falling asleep at work and more concerning, while driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one in 25 adult drivers (aged 18 or older) report having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.
There are a few tips that can help ease the transition to Daylight Savings Time.
- On Saturday, get out of bed at a reasonable time.
- Get plenty of exercise, preferably outdoors.
- Avoid alcohol or caffeine that evening as they can disrupt sleep.
- Treat Saturday night like a work night and go to bed at your same regular time. Make sure your kids do the same!
- Start the day Sunday by again getting out of bed at a reasonable time. Sleeping in late can disrupt your sleeping pattern further.
If you have a lot of difficulty adjusting to the time change, it might be sign of a sleep disorder. Sometimes people do not recognize they are not sleeping well until their bed partner mentions their considerable snoring or even paused breathing while sleeping. Other patients may struggle with falling asleep, insomnia or difficulty staying awake during the day.
If you have concerns about your sleep, share them with your primary care provider. You can also take a sleep assessment on the ProMedica website.
Sleep well and know that Spring is coming!
Kathryn Williams, MD is a ProMedica Physician specializing in pulmonary medicine and sleep medicine.