Mar 11, 2011 2:18 AM by Dr. Anya Winslow

Sleep tips on how to cope with a 23-hour day

A twenty-four hour day never seems to be enough time to get everything done that needs to get done. This Sunday, there will only be twenty-three hours in the day. Yes, it is time to "Spring Forward," and this week is National Sleep Awareness Week®. The National Sleep Foundation wants you to be aware of the importance of sleep in leading a healthy lifestyle.

Recent studies by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reveal that among 74,571 adults polled across twelve states, 35.3% reported getting less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended for adults each night.

Sleep experts offered tips to help people of all ages cope with Sunday's time change. In fact, the one-hour time loss is "like moving one time zone," says Dr. Timothy Rummel, Medical Director of the Memorial Sleep Disorder Center.

Dr. Rummel offers these suggestions to help minimize the effects you may feel from the time change:

Tip #1: "It's really hard to make yourself go to bed earlier [if you're not tired], but you can actually start waking-up a little bit earlier and start shifting your sleep cycle" to accommodate the change. Just moving your alarm clock "15 to 30 minutes earlier over the next few days" before the time change will help.

Tip #2: "Get a lot of bright light in the morning. As long as it's safe, don't wear your sunglasses when you are driving to work in the morning."

When it comes to school-age children, the National Sleep Foundation says that preschoolers (3 to 5 years-old) need 11-13 hours of sleep per night; children up to 10 years of age need anywhere between 10-11 hours per night; teens (10-17) require 8.5-9.25 hours per night.

For children, Dr. Rummel recommends these tips:

Tip #1: "Limit your children's exposure to video games and bright lights and high mental activity the last two hours before bed. It actually helps them fall asleep quicker."

Tip #2: "It turns out, particularly for teenagers, they tend to move their sleep cycle later, later, and later; and whenever you start to let them sleep way, way late on the weekends, like noon or 1 o'clock, again, you're actually hurting their school performance."

Symptoms that should trigger parents attention in their children include "decreased school performance, increased irritability and, particularly, kids will have these problems the first couple of hours in the morning," adds Dr. Rummel.

In adults, symptoms of concern involve what Dr. Rummel calls "micro-sleeps."  "What I hear from a lot of people is that they will miss a moment, and then later on they realize they nodded off." That, in itself, is an indication that you most likely are sleep deprived.

The biggest drawbacks of continual sleep deprivation include "weight gain, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Rummel. "It turns out, if you're chronically sleep deprived, your appetite is stimulated," which can lead to many of the aforementioned conditions.

Although the time change means losing an hour in the day on Sunday, it does not mean that you have to lose control.

Step-up and take control of your health.


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