Daylight saving time is good time to check sleep habits

Rockwall physician discusses how new sleep guidelines relate to upcoming time change

ROCKWALL, TX (March 3, 2015)  How much is enough when it comes to sleep? It’s a question that may be on the minds of many as we get ready to “spring forward” this Sunday into daylight saving time. The one-hour adjustment is easy enough to make to our tangible clocks but for our internal body clocks, the change can mean a disruption to our all-important sleep patterns.

Despite losing an hour of sleep to the time change, new findings recently released by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) show that by making a few small adjustments to your routine you can help yourself and your family snooze better and for the right duration.

“A change in a person’s sleep pattern can have an adverse effect on the body,” said Dhara Patel, D.O., a family medicine physician at Family Healthcare of Rockwall, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. “The Sleep Foundation’s new recommendations should help people develop sleep practices that are healthier, especially as we approach daylight saving time. It’s a great time to assess your sleep habits and make adjustments that can positively impact your mood, health and sleep all year long.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. On average, 40 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep each night. Too little sleep has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, decreased productivity and drowsy driving. Too much sleep has its health disadvantages as well, including heart disease and premature death.

While every individual is a little different, Patel points out that the NSF’s recommendations can provide helpful guidance for parents and others in creating healthy bedtime environments that are conducive to both children and adults getting enough sleep.

“Good sleep habits are an important part of your overall health, so don’t let daylight saving time be a sleep deterrent,” Patel said. “Make simple changes in your routine to ensure you and your family get the proper amount of sleep as recommended by the NSF. Always talk with your physician if you’re not sleeping well over time or if you have concerns about a possible sleep disorder.”

The new guidelines released by the NSF in its Sleep Health journal recommend the following daily sleep duration for healthy individuals in various stages of life:

• Newborns: 14 to 17 hours.

• Infants: 12 to 15 hours.

• Toddlers: 11 to 14 hours.

• Preschoolers: 10 to 13 hours.

• School-aged children: 9 to 11 hours.

• Teenagers: 8 to 10 hours.

• Young adults and adults: 7 to 9 hours.

• Older adults: 7 to 8 hours.

Previously, the NSF had made a single sleep recommendation for all adults. Most of the new advice also recommends wider sleep ranges than in the past, specifically for infants through teenagers.

“Sleep is a necessity for good health and well-being at any age,” Patel said. “Daylight saving time doesn’t have to set you back on getting the proper amount of sleep. Simple changes can keep you rested and healthy. Always talk with your physician if you’re not sleeping well over time or if you have concerns about a possible sleep disorder.”

Reset Your Clock, and Your Sleep Habits

Daylight saving time is a great time to make adjustments for a restful night of sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, try the following:

  • Go to sleep and wake at the same time every day. Avoid spending more time in bed than needed.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep. This will help strengthen the association between your bed and sleep. It may help to remove work materials, computers and televisions from your bedroom as well.
  • Manage your “body clock” with light. It’s best to avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to a healthy dose of sunlight in the morning.
  • Save your worries for the daytime. If concerns creep into your thoughts, write them in a “worry book” so you can address the issues the next day.
  • Select a relaxing bedtime ritual. A warm bath or calming music can get you in the mindset for sleep.

—     National Sleep Foundation

Submitted by Donnie Wyar, Senior Specialist, Communications & Public Relations, Texas Health Resources. 

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