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As the clocks go forward and daylight saving time begins this weekend, you may be worried about losing an hour of sleep and how to adjust to this change.
Even though it’s technically only an hour lost due to the time change, the amount of sleep lost due to a disrupted sleep rhythm lasts for days and people are often thrown off schedulewhich leads to cumulative sleep loss.
Many studies have shown that there is an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure associated with lack of sleep. Workplace injuries increase and so on car accident. Young people often struggle to wake up in time to get to school and may struggle attention and school performance o worsening of mental health problems.
Is there anything to do to help deal with sleep loss and body clock changes?
We leading a sleep evaluation center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and sees regularly patients dealing with sleep loss and internal clocks are not synchronized with external time. Our experience has shown us that it is important to prepare, as much as possible, for the time change that occurs every spring.
Here are some quick tips to prepare yourself for the upcoming weekend.
Don’t start with a “sleep debt”
Make sure you and, if you’re a parent, your child are getting enough sleep regularly, especially leading up to the time change each year. Most adults need somewhere seven to nine hours of sleep daily to perform adequately. Children have different requirements for sleep depending on their age.
Early to bed — and up
Going to bed — and for parents, getting your kids to bed — 15 to 20 minutes earlier each night of the week before the time change is ideal. Having an earlier wake up time will help you fall asleep earlier.
Try waking up an hour earlier than usual on Saturday, the day before the time change. If you can’t make changes to your sleep schedule ahead of time, then keep a very consistent wake-up time on weekdays as well as weekends so you can more easily adjust to the change. time.
Use light to your advantage
Light is the strongest cue for regulating the internal body clock. Expose yourself to bright light upon waking as you start getting up earlier in the week before daylight saving time begins. It resets your internal clock in the right direction. If you live in an area where natural light is limited in the morning after the clock change, use bright artificial light to signal your body clock to wake up earlier. As the season progresses, this becomes less of an issue as the sun rises earlier.
At night, reduce exposure to bright light and especially the blue light emitted by electronic media screens. This light exposure in the middle of the day may be enough change the rhythm of your body and signal your internal clock to wake up later the next day. If your devices allow it, set their screens to dim and emit less blue light at night.
In some geographic locations, it may be helpful to have room-darkening curtains at bedtime depending on how much sunlight your bedroom receives at bedtime. Be sure to open the curtains in the morning to allow the natural light in the morning to set your sleep-wake cycle.
Carefully plan day and night activities.
The night before the time change, set yourself up for a good night’s sleep by incorporating relaxing activities that help you wind down, such as reading a book or meditating.
Include exercise in the morning or early morning. Go for a walk, even if it’s just around the house or office during the day.
Pay attention to what you eat and drink this week
Consider starting with a protein-heavy breakfast, because lack of sleep can increase appetite and cravings for foods high in carbohydrates and sugar.
Stop using caffeine after noon. Drinking coffee, tea, cola, chocolate or other sources of caffeine late in the day can lead to trouble sleeping and even disrupts sleep.
adults, refuse that alcohol at bedtime. Wine and other types of alcohol can also interfere with sleep.
Be especially kind to yourself and the children
If you are a parent or caregiver, try to be patient with your children as they adjust to the new seasons. Sleep deprivation affects the whole family, and some children have a harder time adjusting to the time change than others. You may notice more often meltdown, irritability and loss of attention and focus. Set aside a quieter, electronic media-free time at night. Consider a short — 20-minute or so — nap in the early afternoon for younger children who struggle with this change. Prioritizing sleep pays off in the short term and over the years. A good night’s sleep is a necessary ingredient for a productive and enjoyable day.
Deepa Burman is codirector of the Pediatric Sleep Evaluation Center and an associate professor of pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh. Hiren Muzumdar directs the Pediatric Sleep Evaluation Center at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh.
This is an updated and slightly shorter version of the an article originally published on The conversation in 2019.