National Sleep Awareness Week: Time Change Can Be a Sleep Challenge for Some

By: Stephanie Stanley

ThinkstockPhotos-467819476This weekend’s change to daylight saving time presents a sleeping challenge for many people, when we “lose” an hour of sleep. At 2 a.m.  Sunday, the clocks will be moved forward one hour, essentially “moving” an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.

Thomas Rice, M.D., medical director of the UPMC Passavant Sleep Center, says that the best way to prepare is to start going to bed about 15 minutes earlier each night for a few days leading up to the change.  Going to bed a whole hour earlier on the first night may lead to insomnia if you are not ready to sleep and thus you will have worse sleep quality.

He also says that you can expect to feel more tired and lethargic if waking at the same “clock time” for the first few days after the change. Therefore, extra care should be taken with important activities like driving first thing in the morning. If you feel really tired in the first few days after the change, you should consider taking a brief nap during the day to help you adjust, but limit it to 20 to 30 minutes with an alarm clock.

“Sleeping well is the first step to living well, and eliminating or minimizing sleep problems is vital to your health and well-being. We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, and the overall state of our ‘sleep health’ remains an essential question throughout our lifespan,” Dr. Rice said.

The promotion of regular sleep is known as sleep hygiene. Jacqueline Drahos, unit director of the Center for Sleep Disorders at UPMC St. Margaret, offers these simple “sleep hygiene” tips:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night, and rise at the same time each morning.
  • Sleep in a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Make your bed comfortable and use it only for sleeping and not for other activities, such as reading, watching TV, or listening to music.
  • Remove all TVs, computers, and other “gadgets” from the bedroom.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.

If you want to ensure optimal health in relation to sleep, the National Sleep Foundation recommends how much you need related to your age. Consider these sleep guidelines for different age groups.

  • Newborns (0-3 months ): 14-17 hours each day
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
  • School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours

For those who experience sleep disorders, both UPMC St. Margaret and UPMC Passavant have sleep centers available that provide relaxed, homelike settings designed to make you feel as comfortable as possible. A medical team including board-certified medical directors, licensed respiratory therapists, and registered polysomnographic technologists make it their mission to restore normal sleep to help improve quality of life.

Special Reminder: Fire departments encourage you to change smoke detector batteries when you change your clocks, the timing of which provides a convenient reminder twice a year.