(March 2, 2023) — Getting enough sleep isn’t easy, so who wouldn’t cheer when the Spring time change (Sunday, March 12 this year) forces everybody to “spring forward,” turning the clock ahead and letting people sleep for an extra hour? Not so fast, though.
Dr. Anuj Chandra, medical director of the Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders, says that sleep disruption from time change can cause serious problems, including increased driving accidents, increased workplace accidents, lower school performance, and even a small increase in heart attacks.
“People either like the extra sleep or think the clock change is a minor annoyance, but it’s really a 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, following five good sleep habits added almost five years to a man’s life expectancy and almost 2.5 years to a woman’s. Those five habits are:
- Get 7–8 hours of sleep every night
- You don’t wake up during the night more than twice a week
- You don’t have trouble falling asleep more than twice a week
- Don’t use any sleep medications to get your rest
- You wake up feeling rested at least five days a week
And 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 range from 29.3% in Colorado to 42.8% in West Virginia. In counties around Chattanooga, rates of short sleep time are on the high end of that range:
- Bradley, 38.9%
- McMinn, 41.3%
- Rhea, 42.9%
- Catoosa, 37.3%
- Walker, 39.9%
- Dade, 36.3%
- Whitfield, 37.0%
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:
- When the time changes, get up at your usual time — “You will sleep better after the time change if you stick to your old clock time on the night the time changes. Re-set your clock after you get up,” said Dr. Chandra.
- Enjoy the sun — “After the time changes, get outside into the sunlight as much as you can. It helps reset your internal clock faster,” 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.
- Turn off your 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.
FYI: Wasn’t Daylight Savings Time Supposed to Stop for Good?
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a law in 2019 scrapping the time change, but the state law can’t take effect unless the U.S. Congress passes a federal law allowing states to act. In 2022, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to end the annual time change, but the House never took a vote, so the bill died.
Recent study: https://www.acc.org/About-ACC/Press-Releases/2023/02/22/21/35/Getting-Good-Sleep-Could-Add-Years-to-Your-Life
CDC data: https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data-and-statistics/adults.html