Preparing for lost sleep is part of Daylight Saving
By Michelle Felter
SIKESTON — Although Daylight Saving Time doesn’t start until Sunday, it’s a good idea to prepare for the spring forward now.
“Losing that hour of sleep can be really hard for some people, especially those that already have some sleeping issues,” said Jill Ortiz, director of respiratory care and the sleep lab at Missouri Delta Medical Center. “We actually recommend people use Daylight Saving Time as a reminder to evaluate your sleep environment for a better sleep experience.”
This year, those tips are all the more relevant, as this week is National Sleep Awareness Week.
Ortiz made several suggestions to help people prepare for losing that hour of sleep as they move their clocks one hour forward on Sunday. Her suggestions are in line with those recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.
“One thing people can do is gradually go to bed a little bit earlier three or four nights prior to the change,” said Ortiz. “Ramping back your bedtime 15 minutes a night before Sunday can make the transition a lot easier.
And for those who feel a bit groggy on Sunday afternoon, it’s a good idea to take a nap — as long as it’s not done within a few hours of someone’s regular bedtime, she said.
Ortiz also suggested people be mindful of what they do in the last couple of hours before they go to bed to help sleep come more quickly.
“Establish a relaxing bedtime routine that prepares your brain and body for sleep, such as reading, soaking in a hot bath and relaxing,” she said. “Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.” While regular exercise helps establish good sleep patterns, it should not be done within three hours of bedtime, said Ortiz.
The environment does a lot to help individuals sleep, too. “Use your bedroom only for sleep and intimacy,” Ortiz advised. “Avoid distractions such as work, computers and television.”
Although it won’t be a big issue at the beginning, as the season of spring progresses and the days get longer, it may still be light outside when some go to bed. “When that happens, keep your sleeping area dark and quiet,” she said, adding bedrooms should also be comfortable and cool. “Use blackout shades or something to tone out the light so you don’t notice it’s lighter outside.”
Ortiz also noted that since Daylight Saving Time is marked twice a year, that’s a good time for people to evaluate their pillows and mattresses, as both play a role in obtaining a good night’s sleep.
Ortiz recommended people come up with a routine to follow throughout the year — not just near the time change. “Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule, even on the weekends,” she said.
Sometimes, however, those tips aren’t enough. Ortiz noted that someone who has tried all of these tips, plus those found at www.nationalsleepfoundation.org, and still isn’t getting a good night’s sleep should consider seeing a physician.
“Sometimes following those guidelines isn’t enough,” she said. “There may be an underlying condition.”