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“Spring Ahead; Fall Back,” is Easier Said than Done for the Sleep Deprived

10 Mar

“We are a nation of people who long for a good night’s sleep.” -  Belleruth Naparstek

The old adage, “Spring Ahead and Fall Back,” was created to help us remember which way to turn the clocks in spring and fall, to accommodate Daylight Saving Time. There is another old adage, “Easier Said than Done,” which is used to describe our feelings about losing an hour of sleep to make the change.

While we love evening baseball games, outdoor concerts and dinners or a late walk in the park, there is a price to pay for this extended daylight. Early risers lose an hour of daylight in the morning and many complain that they have to give up their early-morning outdoor activities when the time changes. To make matters worse, animals and infants refuse to run their lives around our clocks, which can disrupt households.

For those of us who get the bare minimum of sleep, losing that hour in the morning can be physically taxing. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, which is a lot more than we usually get. If you’re on the edge, getting the minimum seven hours (or even less) and you have to wake up an hour earlier, without going to bed an hour earlier, this puts you in the danger zone of being sleep-deprived.

Lately, I have pondered the proliferation of movies, TV shows, even news broadcasts and commercials that feature zombies. The walking-dead theme is so popular. Though this is not at all scientific, I can’t help but wonder whether there is a correlation between mass sleep-deprivation and the mass appeal of zombies.

The Center for Disease Control has declared sleep insufficiency to be a nationwide public health epidemic, estimating 50-70 million US adults suffer from some sort of sleep disorder. A growing number of diseases and medical conditions are being linked to poor sleep habits, though it is sometimes uncertain whether sleep disturbance is the cause or effect of the conditions.

Daylight Saving Time was created to save energy resources, but many people feel it saps human energy resources by contributing to the existing problem of sleep insufficiency. Some researchers say there is an increase in the number of motor vehicle crashes, workplace accidents and errors of all kinds when the time change first takes effect. Several reports cite a sharp increase in vehicle-pedestrian accidents, particularly during morning rush hour in spring and afternoon rush hour in fall during the first days after the time change.

In 1918, the country observed its first Daylight Saving Time when the hands of the national clock were manually changed.

The National Sleep Foundation designates the first full week of March as National Sleep Awareness Week each year, and hosts Drowsy Driving Prevention Week each November. Both campaigns raise awareness about the effect of the annual time-changes on sleep habits and the organization provides education and awareness all year to promote the importance of healthy sleep.  

In her comprehensive report, An Epidemic of Sleeplessness, Belleruth states, “We are a nation of people who long for a good night’s sleep. Restful sleep is the new Holy Grail, sought by one in three bleary-eyed Americans.”

Her report is packed with information about sleep insufficiency and tips to help you get a good night’s sleep. Just one of those tips helped me immensely, though I didn’t think I had a problem. I always fell asleep easily and stayed asleep, but I usually woke up feeling groggy and it was tough to get out of bed in the morning. I tried Belleruth’s advice on covering all the light sources in my bedroom, radio dial, alarm clock dial, laptop power source, etc. I covered or removed all of them until the room was pitch dark and as unplugged as possible. Wow, I sleep much better, dream a lot more and often wake up before the alarm goes off. Who knew?

In the report, Belleruth provides information on lifestyle changes (like getting more natural light during the day) and even discusses when it is time to seek professional help for sleep problems. She also provides suggestions for guided imagery to address sleep problems. In light of the statistics on the prevalence of sleep insufficiency, it is no wonder our number one selling guided imagery audio program is Belleruth’s Healthful Sleep.

In The Yoga of Sleep, Dr. Rubin Naiman uses a blend of ancient wisdom and guided practices to help you sleep. The program includes practices that address things like surrendering to sleep, the sacred art of awakening and writing your own bedtime stories. Get both CD’s, plus other goodies in our Goodnight, Sleep Tight Pack.

To check out our other audio programs designed to help you get the best sleep experience, go to our online store or our 2014 Catalog.

How do you feel about Daylight Saving Time? Are you an owl, who likes to stay up late and sleep in or a lark, who prefers an ‘early-to-bed and early-to rise’ routine? As always, we love hearing from you and we welcome your comments, questions and stories.