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Time Change Means Turning Clocks Back on Sunday
Date:11/4/2012

SUNDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The massive East Coast power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy may make it moot for many, but clocks still need to be turned back an hour this weekend.

Unfortunately, your internal body clock may not adjust to the change, but instead react to the cycles of sunlight, said Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a sleep specialist and pulmonologist at the Sleep Disorders Center at Winthrop University Hospital, in Mineola, N.Y.

"In the fall, earlier light exposure in the morning may cause people to wake up earlier," Ahmed explained. "This can cause daytime sleepiness. Many may find the fall time change particularly difficult, because they already have a tendency to awaken early in the morning and get sleepy in the early evening."

To deal with the time change, Ahmed suggests the following:

  • Maintain your regular bedtime and awaken at your regular time. This can give you an "extra" hour of sleep the next morning, and help reduce your sleep debt
  • Block out light, and keep your sleeping area dark. Standard Time means sunrise will occur about an hour earlier. This can impact sleep, especially for people accustomed to waking up around sunrise. The light itself can disturb sleep, so it is always best to sleep in a darkened room
  • Increase the light when you wake up. Light has an alerting effect, and it will also help adjust your biological clock to the "new" sleeping schedule.
  • Phase in changes to your sleep pattern: If you are a "night owl" and tend to be wide awake and energetic until late at night and sleepy in the morning, start a week ahead; a gradual delay in bedtime and awakening a few days before the time change may help you adjust to the change.
  • Avoid stimulants, and don't exercise or have caffeine, alcohol, nicotine or heavy meals close to bedtime.

Those most likely to experience problems with the switch to standard time are people who
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