Focus on better sleep when turning clocks back

Focus on better sleep when turning clocks back

Time will fall back to standard time again on Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014, when daylight saving time ends. For many, this may be an opportunity to catch up on an extra hour of sleep.

Some credit Benjamin Franklin for coming up with the idea of daylight saving time in 1784. Franklin,  whose famous saying, “Early to bed, early to rise,” may have been attempting to educate people on the importance of sleep.

Today, many people dealing with work and family responsibilities may make sleep a luxury and not a priority. And that, according to sleep experts, might have significant negative effects on health and wellness.

Dr. Robert M. Aronson, medical director of the Sleep Program at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill., says that sleep deprivation has many harmful effects on our mental and physical health. He says that lack of sleep decreases our ability to perform daily tasks, impacts our mood, reaction time and attention levels. Sleep deprivation can also lead to decreased productivity and injuries in the workplace.

“People tend to ignore the need for sleep in order to get other things done, but sleep is as important as any healthy lifestyle choice,” Dr. Aronson says. “It’s important to acknowledge the roles that sleep plays in our daily lives, and recognize that how we feel, behave, think and perform is all related to the amount of sleep we get.”

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers these guidelines for better sleep:

  • Avoid “sleeping in” on the weekends, which makes it harder to wake up on Monday.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, meals and exercising four to six hours before bedtime.
  • Eat a small snack before bedtime to avoid going to sleep hungry.
  • Signal to your body that it’s bedtime by avoiding bright lights at night.
  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Make your bedroom quiet, dark and cool.

Dr. Aronson recommends that children in preschool sleep between 11 to 13 hours a night, school-age children between 10 to 11 hours per night, and teens at least nine hours per night. For most adults, seven to eight hours a night is recommended to achieve good health and optimum performance.

The AASM encourages people to discuss sleep-related problems with a primary care doctor or a sleep specialist.

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About the Author

Nate Llewellyn
Nate Llewellyn

Nate Llewellyn, health enews contributor, is a manager of public affairs at Advocate Medical Group. Nate began his career as a journalist and builds daily on his nearly 20 years of writing experience. He spends most of his free time following his wife to their two sons’ various activities.