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Ease Your Way to Daylight-Saving Time

Experts share tips for springing forward without losing a step.
By
WebMD Feature

It's the wicked tradition of springtime -- setting the clock forward. Spring forward? For most of us, it's more like stumbling sideways into daylight-saving time.

This year, the joy occurs before winter has a good chance to thaw. Prepare yourself -- it's this weekend when we reset the alarm clock.

Recommended Related to Sleep Disorders

Trouble Sleeping? Some Bedtime Snacks Can Help You Sleep

Barbara Schneider doesn't allow herself a morsel of food after dinner, believing that eating before bedtime will keep her awake. "Ever since I was young, I've had difficulty falling asleep. And when I do manage to fall asleep, I wake up around 3 a.m.," she says. About 70% of Americans have sleep problems, and about half of them, like Schneider, have insomnia. Although Schneider, 51, a victim services coordinator for the Miami police department, mostly attributes her snooze blues to her high-stress...

Read the Trouble Sleeping? Some Bedtime Snacks Can Help You Sleep article > >

Daylight-saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. Losing an hour's sleep isn't easy for an already sleep-deprived nation.

You know the drill: On Monday morning, you hit the snooze too many times, stagger out of bed, grab an extra cup of coffee -- and push yourself into summer mode. But take heart. Those first few mornings don't have to be dire, if you plan ahead. A few strategic steps will help your body adjust quite easily, according to snooze experts with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

"Come Monday morning, you might be the only bright-eyed and bushy-tailed employee at the office," said Ralph Downey, III, PhD, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif., in a news release.

Mother Nature vs. the Alarm Clock

Here's what you're up against: The advent of daylight-saving time is a double-whammy for the human body, says David Glass, PhD, a biological sciences professor at Kent State University in Ohio.

"In the spring, we not only have to get up an hour early -- but we're also fighting the extra 20 or 30 minutes of sleep our bodies naturally want every day," he tells WebMD. "In the fall, the time change is more in line with our internal clock." Are you sabotaging your sleep? Take the quiz.

The body is wired with a sleep-wake cycle that advances a bit every 24 hours, Glass explains. "If I put you in a dimly lit cave, where you didn't know what time it was, you would get up 20 to 30 minutes later every day." Daylight reins in this natural tendency because daylight controls melatonin, a hormone made by the brain that helps regulate our sleep cycles.

But there's more: We've also got "Sunday night syndrome" working against us, says Kenneth Sassower, MD, a staff neurologist in the Sleep Disorders Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, and neurology instructor at Harvard Medical School.

"Studies show that Sunday nights are the worst nights to fall asleep, even when it's not daylight-saving time," Sassower tells WebMD. "If you've stayed up late, slept in all weekend, by Monday morning you're exhausted. Your body clock is disrupted, so you aren't ready to get up when the alarm goes off."

Survival Tips

How to offset Monday-morning drag?

  • Prepare yourself! Make the time change incrementally beforehand. "Set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier and earlier for five days or so," Sassower suggests. "It helps. When the time change hits, you're already there. It's the same advice I give to people who are traveling out of the country."

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You say you are able to function well with fewer than seven hours of sleep. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get too little sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia or other conditions affecting your sleep.

Sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get too little sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have difficulty sleeping, have insomnia, or have other sleep disorders.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

It's good that you usually do get more sleep, since sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. And if you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

You say you are able to function well with fewer than seven hours of sleep. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

It's good that you usually do get more sleep because sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. And if you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get less sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have difficulty sleeping or have insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Whether your sleep routine involves taking a warm bath, reading a book, or meditating, it's important to keep your bedtime and routine consistent every night and wake up around the same time every morning.

Click here to read more about the importance of sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and wake time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Since you usually sleep this amount, if you often aren't feeling your best, you should consider talking to your doctor. Could you have an underlying condition? Are you feeling anxious or depressed? Have you taken medication that disrupted your sleep? Do you or could you have sleep apnea? Or do you naturally require a little bit more sleep?

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can also have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and wake time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Since you usually sleep longer, if you often aren't feeling your best, you should consider talking to your doctor. Could you have an underlying condition? Are you feeling anxious or depressed? Have you taken medication that disrupted your sleep? Do you or could you have sleep apnea? Or do you naturally require a little bit more sleep?

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can also have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Whether your sleep routine involves taking a warm bath, reading a book, or meditating, it's also important to keep bedtime consistent and wake up around the same time every morning.

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and waking up at the same time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health.

Since you usually get less sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia, another sleep disorder, or conditions affecting your sleep.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health.

Since you usually get less sleep, talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia or another sleep disorder or conditions affecting your sleep.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Effect of short sleep duration on daily activities--United States, 2005-2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2011; 60:239.

Carskadon, MA, Dement, WC. Normal Human Sleep: An Overview. In: Principles and Practices of Sleep Medicine, Fifth, Kryger, MH, Roth, et al. (Eds), Elsevier Saunders, St. Louis, MO 2011. p.16.

Harvard University: "Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety."

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