Published on March 11, 2010

Don't Let Daylight Savings Trigger Insomnia

This Sunday most of the country will move clocks forward an hour to accommodate the shift to daylight savings time, which means an hour of sleep lost for many. Unfortunately, the shifting of the clocks can also signal the onset of insomnia for some. According to Mark Aloia, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine at National Jewish Health, the shift to daylight savings time can cause people to go to bed an hour earlier that night to try no to lose sleep and this can trigger an insomnia.

Dr. Aloia recommends that you resist the temptation to make up the "lost" hour of sleep by going to bed early on Saturday night.

"If your normal bed time is 11 o'clock, then go to bed at 11 o'clock on Saturday. Don't try to make up that hour right away," said Dr. Aloia. "There is a good chance you will lay there not being able to fall asleep, and that could be the trigger for insomnia."

According to Dr. Aloia, you may be groggy and tired on Sunday, but your body will make up for the lost hour over the course of the next few days.

Our circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that determines our sleep and wake periods, controls our internal clock. Our internal clock does not know about daylight savings time. Dr. Aloia recommends listening to your internal clock rather than watching your external clock. You can think of it as following the same number of waking hours before bed rather than trying to get the same number of sleep hours each night. You can go to sleep at your regular clock time (11 o'clock) the next night and maintain your regular schedule on subsequent nights.

"All it takes is one night of irregular sleep for some people to initiate what could become a pattern of insomnia," said Dr. Aloia.

Research shows that some 70 million people will suffer from sleep problems this year. Up to one-third of adults report periodic symptoms of insomnia and 10 to 20 percent report chronic insomnia that interferes with daytime functioning. Prolonged disruptions in sleep patterns can lead to serious health issues if not addressed.

For tips to help get your sleep patterns back on track, click here.

National Jewish Health is known worldwide for treatment of patients with respiratory, cardiac, immune and related disorders, and for groundbreaking medical research. Founded in 1899 as a nonprofit hospital, National Jewish remains the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to these disorders. U.S. News & World Report has ranked National Jewish the #1 respiratory hospital in the nation since 1998.

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