By John Boblick
On average, people get 40 fewer minutes of sleep on the Sunday night after moving their clocks ahead an hour. And recent studies have found that there is a higher risk of heart attacks and workplace injuries the Monday after Daylight Savings Time.
Many people already are chronically sleep-deprived, and Daylight Savings Time can make them even more tired for a few days. The following tips should help you get some shut eye despite losing an hour on the clock:
- In the days before the time change, go to bed and wake up 10 or 15 minutes earlier each day.
- Don't nap on the Saturday before the time change.
- In order to reset your internal body clock, expose yourself to sunlight in the morning as early as you can.
Daylight Savings might be particularly difficult for women who are already at a disadvantage when it comes to sleep. A recent National Sleep Foundation poll of adults revealed that women are more likely than men to have difficulty falling and staying asleep. Women also experience more daytime sleepiness. This may be due, in part, to fluctuations in hormone levels, which can impact sleep. These hormones can shift during pregnancy, menopause and various times during the course of a women's menstrual cycle. Understanding the effects of these hormones, and altering your environment or lifestyle, can help women enjoy a good night's sleep.
Although most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to function well the next day, the National Sleep Foundation also found that the average woman between the ages of 30-60 sleeps only six hours and 41 minutes during the week. Research has shown that too little sleep results in daytime fatigue, increased accidents, problems concentrating, poor performance on the job and in school, and possibly, increased sickness and weight gain.
Sleep tends to be one of the first things to suffer when we feel pressed for time. So how are women supposed to squeeze in some shut eye when they are busy juggling kids, work and any number of other obligations? The bottom line is you have to make it a priority.
1. Maintain the same sleep schedule throughout the week.
2. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
3. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.
4. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
5. Use your bedroom only for sleep.
6. Forgo snacking right before bed.
7. Finish physical activity at least a few hours before bedtime.
8. Avoid caffeine close to when you fall asleep.
9. Stay away from cigarettes before bed.
10. Avoid alcohol prior to snoozing.
Getting the right amount of sleep is vital, but just as important is the quality of your sleep. Common sleep disorders for women that can impact the quality of sleep include insomnia, sleep walking, obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, circadian rhythm disorders, restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorders.
If you think you have a sleep disorder, talk to your doctor. Certain sleep laboratories and clinics can diagnose and treat a full range of sleep problems.