CINCINNATI—With the start of daylight saving time—the "spring forward” of the clock—an hour of missed sleep could occur.
"The spring forward means going to bed an hour earlier and getting up an hour earlier, which is biologically the opposite of most peoples’ inner sleep clock workings,” says Virgil Wooten, MD, professor in the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at UC and director of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center’s Sleep Medicine Center.
"Sleep is like a chain,” says Wooten. "It can be pulled forward but not as easily pushed back. In other words, it is easier to stay up later and sleep in later than it is to go to bed earlier and get up earlier.”
While the time change is only an hour, Wooten and other sleep experts caution that shortchanging your sleep can have larger impacts on your life.
For some, losing sleep can affect performance and safety on the job and at home. They may experience grogginess and irritability, have trouble focusing or feel drowsy while driving. Long-term sleep problems can affect blood pressure, weight and stress levels.
In order to sleep well year-round, Wooten recommends that people get at least eight hours of sleep a night. He also advises his patients to create an environment conducive to sleep at home.
That includes setting up your bedroom just for sleeping; keeping televisions, computers and other activities out of the bedroom; avoiding bright lights and screens, serious discussions or working, studying or exercising right before bedtime. Sleep experts caution that shortchanging your sleep can have larger impacts on your life. Long-term sleep problems can affect blood pressure, weight and stress levels.
"It may take a few weeks for some people to readjust to DST,” he says. "Avoiding staying up late and sleeping late on weekends can help you adjust to the new time more quickly. If you need additional help, melatonin at 1 mg, taken five hours before the new bedtime, and exposure to bright light in the morning may help to reset the inner sleep clock more quickly.”