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SPRING AHEAD: Daylight Saving Time sleep tips
West Bridgewater
March 7, 2014

(Many of us) will lose an hour of sleep at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 11, 2014, when clocks are pushed forward for Daylight Saving Time (DST). The thought of losing an hour of sleep may seem frustrating, but with the right preparation, the shift can pass by smoothly.

We should be aware of how this shift in time can affect the body and mind in order to avoid the health consequences of not getting enough sleep, says Douglas Kirsch, MD, FAASM, assistant medical director of the Sleep Disorders Service in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Departments of Medicine and Neurology at Brigham and Women?s Hospital.

To prepare for and cope with the time change, Dr. Kirsch offers these tips:

? Give yourself a jump start in adjusting to the time change. In the days leading up to the time change, try going to bed and waking up a bit earlier than usual to prepare your body for the time shift

? Expose yourself to light ? ideally, sunlight ? as soon as you wake up. Seeing light first thing after waking up can help reset your body?s clock, so try eating breakfast in front of a window or making a walk part of your morning routine.

? Avoid stimulants that can affect wakefulness, like consuming caffeine in the afternoon, especially a few days before and after the change. Try not to nap during this time as well, since napping can decrease your ability to sleep at night.

? Always avoid driving if you are sleep deprived or otherwise feeling sleepy. If necessary, take public transportation into work for a few days after the time change. If you must drive, make sure to get a full night's sleep each night and remain vigilant when driving.

? Even one hour of sleep deprivation has been associated with increases in the rate of heart attacks, recent research shows. Try to avoid stress, plan for a relaxing weekend, and be sure to take your regular medications.

? Remember that children may not change their patterns based on the time change alone, thus they may prefer to wake up at their usual body clock. Plan for this if possible, by adjusting their bedtime and wake times a bit earlier for a few nights before the change; this will make the Monday morning trip to school a bit easier.

For an ideal night?s rest, always aim for eight straight quality hours of sleep, and consider these suggestions, particularly if you have trouble sleeping:

? Maintain a consistent sleep schedule to help regulate the body's sleep cycle. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep on a regular basis.
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