Losing an hour when daylight saving time kicks in early Sunday could add to a sleep deficit most people already have, which could add to health consequences. Planning ahead, starting tonight, can help ease the transition, an Augusta sleep expert said.
“Everyone is sleep-deprived to begin with,” said Dr. Carmel Joseph, a board-certified sleep specialist. “So when you don’t prepare for the time change, you lose an hour and you end up being even more sleep-deprived.”
Not getting enough sleep has been shown to have serious long-term consequences for the cardiovascular system and tends to contribute to weight gain.
For example, two key hormones involved in weight maintenance are affected. Levels of an appetite-inducing hormone are higher in sleep-deprived patients, while levels of an appetite-suppressing hormone are lower, Joseph said.
To help avoid piling up a sleep deficit, try to avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol in the evening, Joseph said.
“A lot of people think alcohol helps them, but actually it worsens your quality of sleep,” he said.
Avoid the computer, TV and personal electronic devices about an hour before bedtime, Joseph said.
“That stimulation, the light from those things actually keep the brain more alert, and you cannot wind down after that,” he said.
Some suggest a warm shower an hour before bedtime, Joseph said.
Then there is simply going to bed a little earlier. Tonight, try going to bed a half-hour earlier, and then a half-hour earlier again Sunday, Joseph said.
“By Monday, when they go back to work, they are into the rhythm already,” he said.