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Montefiore in the News

March 5, 2009
Setting the clocks ahead can create sleep disturbances

New York City, NY (March 5, 2009) -- Get ready to set your clocks ahead one hour: Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. this Sunday, March 8. First introduced in 1918 as a wartime measure to conserve resources, daylight saving time is favored by many modern Americans because it adds more light in the evenings and has a positive impact on energy conservation (because we're outside more and use less electricity in the house).

If there is any downside to daylight saving time, it's the transition to it from standard time. Setting our clocks forward one hour can create sleep disturbances. For some, it is the minor inconvenience of adjusting to a new sleep schedule. But for people with serious sleep disorders, the transition can be difficult.

Shelby Freedman Harris, PsyD, CBSM, Clinical Psychologist, Cognitive Behavior Therapy Program, Sleep-Wake Disorders Center, Montefiore Medical Center, offers the following tips to help you "spring ahead" without feeling sleep deprived:

  • Starting three days before the time shift, head to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. Also set your alarm clock for 15 minutes earlier, too, each day.
  • Avoid napping, especially in the afternoon and evening.
  • Have dinner an hour earlier a few days before the time change.
  • For the Monday after the time change, try to keep a light schedule. This includes limiting strenuous physical activity and driving.
  • In order to prevent yourself from losing an extra hour of sleep on the night of the time switch, set your clocks ahead earlier in the evening. Go to bed according to the new clock time, not the time on your cell phone or cable box.

If you continue to experience difficulties with your sleep, consult with your doctor or see a sleep specialist, as there are many effective treatments available.