March 5, 2007
For years, many of us in the United States have dutifully
changed our clocks one hour ahead and lost an hour of sleep
on the first Sunday in April. This year, 2007, we will be
making the change to Daylight Saving Time (DST) on the
second Sunday of March (the 11th).
Not everyone will lose this hour of sleep. For those in
some states, DST is not observed. For those of us who know
that it is coming, there are ways to prepare.
"* To prepare for the return to Daylight Saving Time, try
to sleep more than usual a few nights prior to and
immediately following the time change. You can also take a
nap in the afternoon on Sunday if you need it, but not
within a few hours of your regular bedtime. Napping too
close to bedtime can disrupt nighttime sleep.
* Gradually advance your sleep schedule by going to sleep
and waking up 15 to 20 minutes earlier each day for 3 to 4
consecutive days prior to the start of Daylight Savings
* Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet,
comfortable and cool.
* Establish a regular bedtime and wake time schedule
* Try a relaxing routine, like soaking in hot water (a hot
tub or bath) before bedtime.
* Exercise regularly. It is best to complete your workout
at least a few hours before bedtime.
* Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol close to bedtime, as
they can disrupt sleep."
National Sleep Foundation
Several of the above suggestions will help refresh those
who are suffering from lack of sleep throughout the year.
The time change brings sleep loss and sleep deprivation to
our attention, but for many they are unfortunately a way of
"The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is the organizer and
sponsor of National Sleep Awareness Week � (NSAW), an
annual public education, information and awareness
campaign.� Now in its tenth year, this nationwide effort is
the cornerstone for multiple initiatives designed to make
sleep consciousness a part of every person's lifestyle.�
This year's theme is 'Sleep: As Important as Diet and
Exercise (Only Easier!).' Each year, the timing of the
campaign coincides with the return to Daylight Saving Time,
when clocks 'spring forward' at 2:00 a.m. on the second
Sunday in March -- a time when most Americans choose to
lose an hour of sleep!� The 2007 campaign runs from March
5th -- 11th, 2007."
National Sleep Foundation
"Sleep: As Important as Diet and Exercise (Only Easier!)"
Not only does sleep (or lack there of) affect our overall
health, just as diet and exercise do, but the amount of
sleep that we get can also affect how we view and process
the food that is in our diets.
"Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that
partial sleep deprivation alters the circulating levels of
the hormones that regulate hunger, causing an increase in
appetite and a preference for calorie-dense,
high-carbohydrate foods. The study, published in the 7 Dec.
2004 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, provides a
mechanism linking sleep loss to the epidemic of obesity.
Research subjects who slept only four hours a night for two
nights had an 18 percent decrease in leptin, a hormone that
tells the brain there is no need for more food, and a 28
percent increase in ghrelin, a hormone that triggers
hunger. The study volunteers, all healthy young men,
reported a 24 percent increase in appetite, with a surge in
desire for sweets, such as candy and cookies, salty foods
such as chips and nuts, and starchy foods such as bread and
pasta. ... 'It provides biochemical evidence connecting the
trend toward chronic sleep curtailment to obesity and its
consequences, including metabolic syndrome and diabetes.'"
Just as sleep and diet are interconnected, so are sleep and
"For some time now, it has been common knowledge that
exercise is good for one's physical health. It has only
been in recent years, however, that it has become
commonplace to read in magazines and health newsletters
that exercise can also be of value in promoting sound
mental health. ... Another area associated with positive
mental health is the relationship between exercise and
restful sleep. ... [F]indings support the compensatory
position in that trained subjects and those engaging in an
acute bout of exercise went to sleep more quickly, slept
longer, and had a more restful sleep than untrained
subjects or subjects who did not exercise. There were
moderating variables influencing these results. Exercise
had the biggest impact on sleep when: (a) the individuals
were female, low fit, or older; (b) the exercise was longer
in duration; and (c) the exercise was completed earlier in
the day (Kubitz et al., 1996)."
While exercising during the day can be benefit some in
their attempts to get a better night's sleep and be more
well rested overall, it is not always the answer.
"Being tired is not the same as being fatigued or
exhausted, and the difference matters, according to a
researcher from Canada who has spent years investigating
fatigue in various populations. ... People who are tired,
Olson explained, still have a fair bit of energy but are
apt to feel forgetful and impatient and experience muscle
weakness following work, which is often alleviated by rest.
People who are fatigued, on the other hand, experience
difficulty concentrating, anxiety, a gradual decrease in
stamina, difficulty sleeping, and increased sensitivity to
light. They also may skip social engagements once viewed as
important to them. People who suffer from exhaustion, Olson
has observed, report frank confusion that resembles
delirium, emotional numbness, sudden loss of energy,
difficulty in staying awake as well as in sleeping and
complete social withdrawal. Failure to recognize the
difference between tiredness, fatigue and exhaustion could
lead to inappropriate approaches to combat the problem,
which could make matters worse. For example, Olson has some
evidence that while exercise may relieve tiredness, it may
decrease the ability to adapt in people who are suffering
from fatigue or exhaustion."
Most teens feel tired at some point. Knowing that these
feelings may be more than "tired" -- and may be caused by
more than a basic lack of sleep -- can help when
determining how to solve the problem in the most effective
That said, for many, the problem is simply lack of sleep.
"Most teens need about 8 1/2 to more than 9 hours of sleep
each night. The right amount of sleep is essential for
anyone who wants to do well on a test or play sports
without tripping over their feet. Unfortunately, though,
many teens don't get enough sleep. ... [S]tudies show that
during the teen years, the body's circadian rhythm (sort of
like an internal biological clock) is reset, telling a
person to fall asleep later and wake up later. Unlike kids
and adults, whose bodies tell them to go to sleep and wake
up earlier, most teens' bodies tell them go to sleep late
at night and sleep into the late morning. This change in
the circadian rhythm seems to be due to the fact that the
brain hormone melatonin is produced later at night for
teens than it is for kids and adults. This can make it
harder for teens to fall asleep early. These changes in the
body's circadian rhythm coincide with a time when we're
busier than ever."
While determining the cause may be simple (lack of sleep as
a result of time constraints, early school days, and busy
schedules), determining the solution may be more difficult.
In the mean time, sleep deprivation is not something to be
"In adolescents, who are biologically driven to sleep
longer and later than adults do, the effects of
insufficient sleep are likely to be even more dramatic--so
much so that some sleep experts contend that the nation's
early high-school start times, increasingly common, are
tantamount to abuse. ... There can be little question that
sleep deprivation has negative effects on adolescents.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, for example, drowsiness and fatigue cause
more than 100,000 traffic accidents each year--and young
drivers are at the wheel in more than half of these
crashes. Insufficient sleep has also been shown to cause
difficulties in school, including disciplinary problems,
sleepiness in class and poor concentration."
For teachers, there are teacher's guides available to help
you talk with your students about the topic of sleep. The
following are created by "The Nemours
Foundation/KidsHealth. Reproduction permitted for
individual classroom use.":
For teachers working with students grades 9 - 12:
"How did your students sleep last night? It's more
important than you might think. Sleep affects not only how
much energy we have but also our abilities to learn, be
creative, and play sports. The following discussion
questions and activities will help your students understand
sleep and get their ZZZs."
For teachers working with students grades 6 - 8:
"Sleep gives the body a rest, but your students may not be
getting enough to reap the benefits! The following
discussion questions and activities will help your students
learn the value of a good night's sleep and explore ways to
remedy some common sleep problems."
Questions of the Week:
How often do you wake well rested -- having had enough
sleep the night before? How often do you go through your
day tired and sleep deprived? How does having enough sleep
affect how you function the next day? How does not having
enough sleep affect your day? If you are always tired, how
can you know what aspects of your day would be different if
you had more sleep? What lifestyle and/ or time management
changes could you make to help you get a better night's
sleep on a more regular basis? How can you determine if you
are suffering from fatigue or exhaustion, and how might you
handle things differently if that is the case?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions. Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum