Wynnewood, Lower Merion Township, PA — Tonight most of us will lose an hour of sleep as we turn our clocks forward for daylight savings time. Many people dread daylight savings times “spring forward” time change because of the sixty minutes loss of sleep        

At 2 AM, we will "spring forward", and it will become 3 AM.  Sixty minutes gone.

A loss of only sixty minutes may not sound like much, but it is enough to disrupt your internal clock, which is what scientists call the circadian rhythm. 

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If you are not getting proper amounts of sleep, you may be overly tired during the day. But sleep shouldn’t be your only concern because your internal body clock also affects mood, mental alertness, hunger, brain wave activity, and heart function.

Disturbing the body's natural cycles can cause severe social and medical problems. Studies show that there are more frequent traffic accidents and workplace injuries when we spring forward and lose that precious hour of sleep. Heart patient studies provide insights to higher risk for myocardial infarction in the week following DSTs “Spring Forward.” 

Scientists continue to find connections between the disrupted internal clock and chronic health issues, from diabetes to heart disease to cognitive decline.

Studies have compared the results of extended periods of wakefulness to blood-alcohol levels.  Someone that has been awake for 18 hours straight performs on a level similar to someone with a .05% blood-alcohol level.  A person that goes without sleep for 24 hours can cause them to behave like someone with a .10 BAC.  In Pennsylvania .08 BAC qualifies as drunk or impaired driving.  

According to the American Economic Journal, Daylight Saving Time (DST) impacts over 1.5 billion people, and researchers estimate that 30 or more vehicle-related crash deaths occurred from 2002-2011 at a social cost of $275 million annually.

There is some good news.  If you have good sleep habits, it is not going to take too long for you to readjust to the DST time change.  As a rule of thumb.  It roughly takes a day to adjust for each hour of time change.

According to WebMD the average adult needs between seven and a half and eight hours of sleep per night.  The site notes that many people can function with six hours of sleep and there are some who need nine hours or more.

Here are some tips for getting solid, healthy sleep:

  • Avoid making your bedroom into an office or workroom.
  • Get regular exercise— but not right before bedtime
  • Have a fixed bedtime and wake-up time.
  • Turn off electronics thirty to sixty minutes before bedtime.
  • Avoid the blue light from TVs, tablets, and cell phones. 
  • Stop caffeine intake within 10-12 hours of your bedtime.
  • Get out of bed if you cannot sleep after 20 minutes.
  • Avoid napping during the day if possible.
  • Avoid alcohol or caffeine right before bed.
  • Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary food before bed.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.

Sleep is a vital function of living.  Getting the proper amount of sleep allows us to ward off fatigue.  Fatigue or tiredness impacts reaction time, judgment, and vision. Sleep-deprived folks tend to have problems concentrating and processing information.  They may perform tasks poorly and can be less vigilant, motivated, and moody. Aggressive behavior may increase, as short-term memory is impaired.

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