CINCINNATI—The majority of Americans who turn their clocks back one hour on Oct. 29 may think they’re gaining an hour of sleep.
But UC sleep expert Victoria Surdulescu, MD, says this isn’t really the case.
“After the ‘fall back’ time change, the light tends to stream into our windows even earlier, causing us to wake up even earlier,” she says. “We really get less sleep as we adjust to this change.”
Surdulescu, assistant professor and director of the UC Comprehensive Sleep Medicine Center, recommends that people get at least eight hours of sleep at night to stay healthy and alert during the day.
To help your body adjust to the time change, Surdulescu suggests that you go to bed and wake up at the same time you normally would—especially the night the time changes, and even though the change happens at 2 a.m.
She also advises that you create an environment conducive to sleep.
“Your bedroom is for sleeping,” says Surdulescu. “Make sure it’s dark by closing blinds or curtains."
Surdulescu also says to turn off televisions and computer screens when you get into bed.
“The light from TVs and computers may not seem like a lot, but it can really affect the quality of sleep you get,” she says.
This can be particularly bad for children, who tend to spend time on the computer late into the evening.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America Poll, Americans average 6.8 hours of sleep on weeknights and 7.4 on weekends. The poll also estimates that three-quarters of America’s adults report sleep problem symptoms.