Twice a year, most of the nation changes its clocks at 2:00 a.m. -- on the second Sunday in March, when clocks “spring forward” an hour for Daylight Saving Time, and the first Sunday in November, when they “fall back” one hour to return to Standard Time. Because the time change occurs in the middle of the night, sleep cycles can be disturbed, especially in the spring when many people “lose” an hour of sleep. But as clocks move back Sunday morning, November 6, and you “gain back” an hour of the day, will people sleep an hour more? Probably not, according to the Wilson Memorial Hospital’s Sleep Center.
“Many people have difficulties adjusting to both time changes,” said Steve Brabbin, Director of the Wilson Sleep Center. “But in the fall, earlier light exposure in the morning may cause people to wake up earlier. They may sleep less, causing more daytime sleepiness,” she said. Brabbin noted that “larks” may find the fall time change particularly difficult, because they already have a tendency to awaken early in the morning and get sleepy in the early evening.
To help ease the adjustment to standard time, the Wilson Sleep Center recommends these tips:
· Maintain your regular bedtime Saturday night when clocks move back, and awaken at your regular time. This can give you an “extra” hour of sleep the next morning and help reduce your sleep debt.
· Block out light and keep your sleeping area dark. Standard time means sunrise will occur about an hour earlier. This can impact sleep, especially for people accustomed to awakening before or around sunrise. The light itself can also disturb sleep. It is always best to sleep in a darkened room until you wake up.
· Increase the light when you wake up. Light has an alerting affect that may help you wake up. It will also help adjust your biological clock to the “new” sleep schedule.
· If you are a “lark” and tend to be wide awake and energetic in the morning and sleepy early in the evening, start a few days ahead; a gradual delay in bedtime and awakening a few days before the time change may help you adjust to the change.
· Difficulty adjusting to the time change – staying awake at night or sleeping until your desired wake up time may be helped by gradually moving bedtime and awakening later by 15 minutes every one to two days.
Wilson’s Sleep Center works with the National Sleep Foundation as a Community Sleep Awareness Partner, to educate people in Shelby and surrounding counties about the importance of sleep and the treatment of sleep disorders. For more information about the Wilson Sleep Center, visit www.wilsonhospital.com or call (937) 498-5447.