Sunday's time change can be easier with some advance preparation
FRIDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- You already know you'll lose an hour of precious sleep when the clocks shift forward into daylight saving time early Sunday morning.
But you may not know that you could lose a lot more if you don't take steps to ease the adjustment, experts said.
"There are more accidents on the road within two days of daylight savings," said Shelby Harris, director of behavioral sleep medicine at Montefiore Medical Center's Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in New York City. "If there are that many accidents, think about how many other things are affected."
Indeed, research released last fall in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed a jump in the number of heart attacks following both semi-annual time changes, although it was more pronounced in the spring.
According to Dr. Aparajitha Verma, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at The Methodist Hospital System in Houston, normal circadian rhythms (your "body clock") typically take 24 to 48 hours to readjust to time changes.
The good news is that a few simple steps can help smooth the transition. Take this advice from the experts:
And don't forget that the time change can be even more of a disruption for people who have underlying sleep disorders. These people should take extra special care.
"People with underlying sleep disorders -- for example, sleep apnea -- may need to be treated in conjunction with the time change," Verma said.
An estimated 50 million to 70 million Americans have some kind of sleep problem, according to the Institute of Medicine.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has more on the time change.
SOURCES: Shelby Harris, Psy.D., director, behavioral sleep medicine program, Sleep-Wake Disorders Center, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; Aparajitha Verma, M.D., medical director, Sleep Disorders Center, The Methodist Hospital System, Houston; Nicholas Rummo, M.D., director, Center for Sleep Medicine, Northern Westchester Hospital Center, Mount Kisco, N.Y.; Oct. 30, 2008, New England Journal of Medicine
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