Carla Hay-Perdue, DNP, APRN, FNP, ANP-BC, NC-BC
Community Education Coordinator/ Family Nurse Practitioner at Palo Pinto General Hospital
March 21, 2021
Adjusting to Daylight Savings Time.
We do this every year since 1966! Spring forward 1 hour at 2:00 AM the second Sunday in March. This results in 1 hour less of sleep that night. Then at 2 AM on the first Sunday in November, we set the clocks back one hour.
More sunshine in the afternoon! Yea! However, does this worsen our sleep deprivation? According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep experts have noted troubling trends during the March transition between Standard Time and Daylight-Saving Time. These issues include an upswing of heart problems, mood disorders, and motor vehicle collisions. In addition, sleep disruption from any cause contributes to hypertension, decreased healing, cardiovascular disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, accidents, cognitive and memory problems, and increased stress reaction and pain.
Daylight Savings Time (DST) can cause sleep problems if the circadian rhythms are not aligned with natural cycles of light and darkness. Some experience insomnia due to springtime changes. One study found that the average person receives 40 minutes less sleep on the Monday after Springing forward than other nights of the year.
Major sleep disruptions are less likely to occur in November when DST ends and Standard times begin. In fact, gaining an extra hour of sleep often leaves people feeling more refreshed.
The fact that DST bothers us maybe because the average American sleeps only about 6.8 hours at night, and 40% of us bank less than 6 hours. We have developed a culture of sleeplessness. With the internet, cell phone, TV, and increased work, school, and extracurricular requirements, sleep is seen as a luxury, not a necessity.
How much sleep do we need?
Newborns need 14 to 17 hours of sleep a day.
Preschoolers 3-5 years need 10 to 13 hours of sleep.
School-age children aged 6 to 12 need 9 to 12 hours of sleep.
Teenagers aged 13 to 18 need 8 to 10 hours of sleep.
Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Yet, according to the CDC, In the US, 34.9% of adults slept less than 7 hours per night, and 30.9 to 33.6% of folks in Palo Pinto County received less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep.
Here are some tips to improve our sleep!
- Refrain from consuming alcohol before bed. While drinking can cause you to feel sleepy initially, alcohol also causes sleep disruptions and leads to poor quality sleep. Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics that can increase the need for a bathroom break during the night.
- Avoid eating too late. Heavy dinners and snacks before bedtime also negatively affect how well you sleep. Give yourself time to digest after eating a large meal.
- Establish a consistent sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This includes weekends. Make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
- Spend time outdoors. Natural light is a driving force behind our circadian rhythms. Exposure to sunlight can alleviate feelings of tiredness during the day. Spending time outside during the day also suppresses melatonin, a hormone released in the evening to help you feel tired and ready for bed.
- Nap in moderation. People who experience sleep debt due to DST can find relief by taking short naps during the day. Don’t exceed 20 minutes in length, or you may wake up feeling groggy.
- Don’t consume caffeine too close to bedtime. Studies have found caffeine consumed within 6 hours of bedtime can disrupt your sleep cycle. Moderate amounts of caffeine in the morning or early afternoon should have less of an effect on your sleep.
Follow these tips and make sleep a priority. It is good for your health!
CDC (2021). Sleep and Sleep disorders. Retrieved from CDC – Key Sleep Disorders – Sleep and Sleep Disorders
Medic,G., Wille, M.,& Hemels, M. (2017). Short and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and Science of Sleep, 9, 151-161.
Pacheco,D. (2021). Daylight Saving Time. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from Daylight Saving Time – How Time Change Affects Sleep | Sleep Foundation