(October 19, 2023) — “Spring forward, Fall back” is NOT everything you need to know about the seasonal time change (Sunday, November 5 this year). Changing your clocks correctly might keep you from missing morning appointments the day after the time changes, but it won’t help you avoid sleep problems.
Dr. Anuj Chandra, medical director of the Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders, says that sleep disruption from the time change can cause serious problems, including increased driving accidents, increased workplace accidents, lower school performance, and even a small increase in heart attacks.
“When the time changes, it’s really a big disruption to your body’s regular sleep-wake cycle, and that can cause problems,” said Dr. Chandra.
There’s new scientific evidence supporting that idea. According to a recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session, getting a good night’s sleep added almost five years to a man’s life expectancy and almost 2.5 years to a woman’s.
Unfortunately, people in our area tend to report shorter sleep time. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the proportion of adults who report less than 7 hours of sleep per night nationwide range from 29.3% in Colorado to 42.8% in West Virginia. In Hamilton County, 39.1% of people get less than 7 hours. Throughout the region, rates of short sleep time range from 36.3% in Dade County to 42.9% in Rhea County.
Tips for Getting Better Sleep
Here are Dr. Chandra’s top tips to reduce the impact of the time change and get more sleep throughout the year:
- Change your clock AFTER you get up — “If you stick to your regular wake-up time that first morning, you will sleep better in the long run even if that morning is a little bit hectic,” said Dr. Chandra.
- Get more sun — “After the time changes, spend time outside in the sunlight as much as you can to help reset your internal clock,” said Dr. Chandra.
- No naps — “Resist the urge to nap for a few days after the time change. Napping makes it harder for your body clock to reset, so it works against you in the long run,” said Dr. Chandra.
- No screens — “Turn off all electronic devices — anything with a screen — at least one hour before you go to bed. The blue-spectrum light that comes from screens reduces your body’s production of melatonin at night, when you need it to help you fall asleep,” said Dr. Chandra.