Springing Forward: Tips to Avoid Sleep Deprivation

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March 9, 2017

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Sleep deprivation is a threat to public health, according to studies funded by the National Institutes of Health. And there’s no greater reminder of this troubling fact than daylight saving time, which will begin on Sunday at 2 a.m.

Yes, it’s time to “Spring forward” again, meaning that you lose an hour of sleep.

This time of year brings the usual alerts from health officials about getting enough sleep and how sleep is crucial for overall health. More than one in three adults in the United States are getting less sleep than they need, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most adults should be getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Many lifestyle factors have contributed to a lack of sufficient sleep among Americans, including longer work hours (both at the office and remotely from home), family obligations and too much dependence on electronic devices such as tablets and smartphones. The disruption in sleep patterns has also been linked to the national obesity epidemic. Stress is also among the leading causes of not getting enough sleep.

“When people are thinking about a healthy lifestyle, they have to consider what they eat and if they exercise,” said Jeremy Tabak, M.D., medical director of Baptist Sleep Center at Galloway and Baptist Hospital’s Sleep Diagnostic Center. “But how much sleep they are getting should be right up there with a healthy diet and exercising regularly,”

Sobering Facts About Sleep Deprivation

  • About 59 percent of Americans get 7 or more hours of sleep at night; about 40 percent get less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours.
  • A person who goes without sleep for one night is as impaired as a legally intoxicated individual.
  • After only 16 hours of continually being awake, most people start to display a significant slowing of reaction time.
  • Sleeping less than 5 hours a night increases the risk of death from all causes by 15 percent.

Sleep diagnostic centers can help patients diagnosed with sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Many people who don’t get enough sleep may not suffer from these conditions. Nonetheless, their disrupted circadian biological clocks can contribute to a range of serious health issues, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, headaches and depression. The body’s internal circadian clocks regulate the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day.

Even the hour lost to “daylight saving time” on Sunday matters, especially if you’re already having sleeping problems. “If you’re already somewhat sleep-deprived, giving up just one hour of shuteye can negatively impact how you feel and function during the day, perhaps even compromising your alertness and reaction time while driving,” states the National Sleep Foundation. If you weren’t sleep deprived, then you should adjust to the new time schedule naturally within a few days as your circadian rhythm catches up.

Here are tips to getting a better night’s sleep:

  • Establish a routine for bed and wake-up times, and keep that schedule consistent throughout the week.
  • Turn off electronic devices when you go to bed.
  • Avoiding eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • If you are unable to fall asleep, try going to another room and reading until feeling sleepy — then return to bed.
  • Exercise regularly throughout the week.
  • Keeping the bedroom quiet, dark and a comfortably cool temperature.

Using data from the CDC, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the percentage of adults in every state who sleep less than seven hours per night, creating a ranking of the states where residents get the most and least amount of sleep. Hawaii residents get the least sleep with 43.9 percent of adults averaging less than seven hours each night. By contrast, only 28.4 percent of adults in South Dakota get insufficient sleep, the lowest share of any state.  Florida came in at No. 22, with adults in the Sunshine State 35.8 percent of adults getting less than seven hours of sleep.

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