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Your Healthy Family: Prepare to ‘spring ahead’ and avoid falling behind in sleep

Posted at 11:01 AM, Mar 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-09 11:27:31-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – Sunday March 10 marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time.

And while most of us welcome the later sunsets, losing an hour of sleep can throw us for a loop.

Dr. Timothy Rummel, MD, with UCHealth Memorial, board certified in pulmonary disease, critical care medicine, internal medicine and sleep medicine says, “If you track overall car accidents and you track job accidents you track job performance, there is a good amount of large epidemiologic studies that show there is a temporary bump for those first few days after the time change, (onto daylight saving time) it’s not dramatic but it’s statistically valid.

Dr. Michelle Drerup, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic said one way to overcome the lost hour is to plan ahead.

“The best strategy is – several days beforehand – to gradually shift the bedtime and wake-time earlier, by 15 minutes or so, every night, and this tends to be really helpful for our kids as well,” she said.

Dr. Rummel adds that night owls tend to feel the effects of this time change more than others.  Like Dr. Drerup, Dr. Rummel suggests easing your body into the time change starting three or four days out.  “Begin waking up fifteen to thirty minutes early each day, and even if it’s your usual habit to stay up late, go to bed earlier in small incremental times.”

Dr. Drerup said those who are already sleep-deprived also tend to feel the ill effects of the time change the most.

“One of the most common complaints that people will feel is fatigue; and it may be physical fatigue or it may be mental fatigue,” said Dr. Drerup. “They may also have difficulty with concentrating, focusing, and may feel more irritable”

For those who feel like they’re still dragging on Monday morning, Dr. Drerup said instead of reaching for another cup of coffee or taking a long nap, try getting outside and taking a walk instead.

And for those worried about hitting the snooze over and over on Monday morning, she suggests getting some light exposure.

“The best thing to do would be to seek light in the morning,” said Dr. Drerup. “Light exposure is the single most efficient entrainer for our circadian rhythm, and getting that light exposure sends the signal to turn off our melatonin release and helps us awaken.”

Dr. Rummel suggests, “When you’re driving to work in the morning, if it’s safe don’t wear sun glasses and get some bright light in the morning.  If you can do some of these things then you won’t feel the time change so bad on Monday morning.”

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