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Tips for Transitioning to Daylight Saving Time from Paoli Hospital

A nap Sunday afternoon can help smooth the adjustment to a new sleep schedule, according to Paoli's Dr. Eliot Friedman.

Editor's note: Daylight saving time begins Sunday, March 11, at 2 a.m., when clocks should "spring forward" one hour. The following information on how to handle the change comes from .

Spring Forward: It's Daylight Savings This Sunday, March 11.

Not looking forward to losing an hour of sleep this weekend? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, one-third of Americans said they “dread” having to turn the clock forward for spring Daylight Saving Time*.

“For many people, daylight saving time may not be a bother at all,” says Eliot Friedman, medical director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Paoli Hospital. “But for some, the return of daylight savings can have profound effects.”

As Dr. Friedman explains, a sudden deprivation in the amount of sleep generated by this abrupt advance in our internal time clock can make people less alert, more irritable and more prone to accidents, both in automobiles and at the workplace. In fact, some studies have shown an increase in the rate of workplace accidents following time schedule changes. In addition, our body and our brain have a hard time compensating for the time change, given that our internal sleep/wake or circadian clock cannot recalibrate itself this quickly.

To help make the loss of an hour of shut-eye easier to handle, Dr. Friedman recommends the following:

  • Plan ahead by going to bed 20 minutes earlier each night days before the time change. This will allow your internal circadian clock to adjust to the time change easier, making it easier to go to sleep Sunday night so you’re not starting the work week feeling fatigued.

  • Expose yourself to sunlight in the morning as early as you can to help reset your internal body clock.

  • Take a nap in the afternoon on Sunday if needed, but not within a few hours of your regular bedtime. Napping too close to bedtime can disrupt regular sleep.

  • Practice good sleep hygiene meaning sleep in a dark, cool environment; avoid reading, eating, and watching TV in bed; limit caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and exercise close to bedtime; and set a wind-down time before going to sleep. Also try to avoid being exposed to light sources, such as computers, in the immediate hours prior to bedtime.

As you're trying to get used to the time change, Dr. Friedman says if you can’t fall asleep within 30 minutes of lying down, if you have excessive daytime sleepiness, or if you're still sleeping for seven or more hours and waking up tired, you may want to seek professional help a center that is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, such as the Center for Sleep Medicine at Paoli Hospital.

For more information about the Center for Sleep Medicine or to make an appointment with a sleep specialist visit www.mainlinehealth.org/paolisleep.

(*Results from a Sleepy’s survey of over 1,000 adults, March 2011)

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