Tips for adjusting to Daylight Saving Time

Dr. Susan Rausch of Memorial’s Sleep Center appeared on KIT 1280 on March 4, 2014 to offer tips for adjusting to Daylight Saving Time, which occurs this year on Sunday, March 9.

For most of us, the time change is going to force us out of bed an hour earlier than we’re used to, and we may find waking up not so easy next week. How time changes affect you depends on your own personal health, sleep habits, and lifestyle.

 

What can you do to reset your internal clock to adapt more quickly to the time changes?

  • It typically takes a day for every hour of sleep gained or lost for someone to adjust to a time change.
    • Your circadian rhythm, or 24 hour internal clock, is influenced by the environment, behavior, and medications.

The Environment

  • Light is the principal environmental cue which tells our body when to be awake. Light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing substance melatonin.
  • For example, if you get up at night to go to the bathroom, do not turn on the light. Prepare beforehand by installing a dim night light.

 

Medications

  • It is unlikely that medications would be needed for a simple one-hour time change of the clock, but in certain circumstances, like traveling across multiple time zones, sleeping pills can help with travel related sleep problems.
  • Sleeping pills should only be used under the direct guidance of a doctor or sleep specialist.

Sleep Deprivation

  • If you’re sleep deprived, you may not make up what you’ve lost simply in one weekend. 
  • The amount of sleep you need varies from person to person, but most adults need 7 to 8 hours a night.
  • If you’re sleep deprived, you might suffer from memory problems, depression, weight gain, weakening of your immune system and an increase in the perception of pain. 
  • A recent study found that sleep deprivation reduces insulin sensitivity which can lead to metabolic problems, including Type 2 diabetes and weight gain.
  • If you are sleepy or fatigued you may be at greater risk for injury, accidents or accidental poisoning – be careful and avoid dangerous activities if you are sleepy or fatigued.
  • A British study found that more than 700 genes are affected when people get less than six hours of sleep a night for one week.
  • The immune system and how the body reacts to damage and stress are affected by lack of sleep.

Tips to combat Daylight Saving Fatigue

  • Perk up with coffee or another caffeinated beverage in the morning; avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
  • Expose yourself to daylight soon after waking. Doing so helps adjust the circadian rhythm.
  • Avoid bright light in the evening. Computer screens mimic daylight and throw your circadian rhythm off.
  • Practice good sleep habits, with a comfy bed, a quiet room and white noise to drown out sounds if necessary.
  • A short catnap can be restorative, but limit the nap to no more than 30 minutes.
  • If your children are having issues adjusting to the change, keep them on their regular sleep, wake and nap schedules.  They should make the adjustment within a few days.

For more information, visit Sleepcenteratmemorial.org or call 574-3383.

Frequently  asked questions:

If I am sleep deprived, can’t I just catch up on my sleep over the weekend?

You may not make up what you’ve lost in sleep simply in one weekend. The amount of sleep each person need varies from person to person, but most adults need 7 to 8 hours a night. Sleep deprivation results in memory problems, depression, weight gain, weakening of your immune system and an increase in the perception of pain. You also may be at greater risk for injury or accidents.

How should I help my children adjust to the time change?

Keep your children on their regular sleep, wake and nap schedule, and they should adjust to the time change within a few days.

Are there sleep specialists in Yakima?

The Sleep Center at Memorial, which is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is dedicating to education you about the tools you’ll need to improve your sleep quality and treat any sleep disorders. The Sleep Center at Memorial has the largest team of sleep specialists in Central Washington. Our highly trained physicians, physician assistants and technicians work quickly and effectively to get you an appropriate diagnosis. We’ll work with your referring physician to put together a plan that will get you on track for a good night’s sleep.


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