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As Clocks Fall Back on Sunday, Think About Better Sleep

FRIDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- When you turn your clocks back an hour this weekend, it might be a good opportunity to think about whether you're getting enough sleep.

The switch from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time officially occurs at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, and it moves one hour of daylight from the evening to the morning.

You'll likely appreciate the extra hour of sleep you'll gain with the return to Standard Time, but it won't be enough to eliminate any major sleep debt you may have accumulated due to a hectic lifestyle, experts say.

Chronic sleep deprivation can affect attention levels, reaction time and mood, leading to decreased productivity at work, increased family stress, and potential health problems, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

"People tend to ignore the need for sleep in order to get other things done, but sleep is as important as what you eat, how much you exercise, and other healthy lifestyle practices," Dr. Nancy A. Collop, director of the Emory Sleep Center and president-elect of the AASM, said in an academy news release. "It's important to acknowledge the role that sleep plays in our daily lives, and recognize that how we feel, think and perform is all dictated by the amount of sleep we get."

The amount of sleep needed for good health and optimum daytime performance varies by age: preschoolers need 11 to 13 hours a night; school-age children should get 10 to 11 hours; teens must have at least nine hours; and adults should get seven to eight hours each night.

The AASM offers these tips for a good night's sleep:

  • Don't exercise or have caffeine, alcohol, nicotine or heavy meals close to bedtime.
  • It's fine to eat a small snack before bedtime to avoid going to sleep hungry.
  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool.
  • Don't sleep in on the weekends. That just makes it harder to wake up on Monday.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about sleep.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCES: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, Nov. 3, 2010; U.S. National Institute of Standards and Measurements

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