Adjusting to Spring Forward

Michelle Caraballo M.D., sleep medicine specialist at Children's Health, discusses adjusting to the time change. 

1. THE TIME CHANGE (AS FOLKS MAY BE FEELING THIS MORNING) IS NOT A SMALL THING. An hour shift can create a big transition. 
It turns out that even a one-hour time shift can come with consequences in our already sleep-deprived population. After all, only 35% of adults report getting the recommended seven hours or more of sleep each night, according to the American Sleep Association.
For starters, there's an increased risk of traffic accidents during the six days following spring's daylight saving, according to a 2014 study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder. Another 2014 study, led by the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, shows there's a 24% jump in the number of heart attacks that occur on the Monday after we "spring forward" for daylight saving compared to other Mondays throughout the year.
You're also more likely to be off your game at work. "When sleep-deprived, a person's ability to judge their own impairment becomes impaired," said Dr. Katherine Sharkey, associate professor of medicine and psychiatry and human behavior at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. This can impact everything from the ability to gauge alertness to the process for making decisions (which is why it might be better to pencil in a day for administrative tasks or catching up on emails). "We're more prone cognitively to be sluggish and lack mental clarity on the Monday after daylight saving and our performance can suffer," said Dr. James Maas, author of Sleep for Success!
Fortunately, there are some simple tips and tricks that can be used to help your body prepare for the one-hour loss of sleep. Below, some insight on what works best for sleep experts themselves.
2. TAKE IT GRADUALLY To avoid the shock of a one-hour loss of sleep,  take it bit by bit, going to sleep and waking up 15 minutes earlier than normal for a couple of days and then keeping moving the time back til you reach an hour.  He said this strategy can work in advance and is also helpful for business travelers preparing to change time zones.
3. DARKER DRAPES WILL HELP -- as kids especially are meant to be going to bed before dark.  In the morning, let the light in to help you wake up. 
4  WIND DOWN: Reduce electronic use a couple of hours before bedtime.  Begin dimming the lights as well 2 hours before sleep 
5. SLEEP STEADY:  Keep the bed time steady once you've hit the transition point and avoid caffeine 
6. SPRING BREAK/SPRING FORWARD: If the kids are out of school and you're going on vacation it's ok to loosen the reins of course and shifting an hour or hour and a half bedtime.   But letting older kids choose their own bedtimes can be problematic. You don't want to be shifting over two hours to get back on schedule. 

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