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Time change: raising insomnia awareness on nation’s most sleep deprived day

Filed in
  • Time change
  • Insomnia

Patrick Murray  |  Mar 06, 2014
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The national rate of car accidents, heart attacks and lost workplace productivity may spike Monday, coinciding with the first weekday following the “spring forward” time change. As we enter the final weeks of winter, we look forward to the extra hour of evening sunlight that the return to daylight saving time brings, at the expense of an hour of weekend sleep. “Black Monday” brings a shock to the nation’s circadian system as millions of Americans experience acute insomnia from the time change.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is using this particularly difficult Monday to help raise awareness of insomnia. The AASM is declaring March 10 as Insomnia Awareness Day to remind people with insomnia that help is available at a local AASM accredited sleep center.

About one third of adults typically experience temporary insomnia symptoms such as daytime fatigue, worry about sleep, cognitive impairment, irritability and lack of energy. For people who are more vulnerable to sleep problems, the time change can act as a trigger for moderate to severe insomnia, a condition that takes a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health. Long-term insomnia – affecting about 10 percent of adults – is associated with increased health care costs, poor school and work performance, and a higher risk of errors and accidents.

You can minimize the impact of the time change and avoid potential insomnia symptoms by taking the following steps:

  • Prepare for the time change by going to bed 15 to 20 minutes earlier each night. This helps your body adjust and minimizes the effects on your body that are similar to jet lag.
  • Adjust your other daily routines to match your new schedule prior to the time change.
  • Set your clocks ahead in the early evening on Saturday to encourage a normal bedtime.
  • Spend time outdoors or in front of a bright light therapy light to get better adjusted to the new schedule. Morning exposure to sunshine or bright light can help reset your internal clock, which regulates sleep and alertness.
  • Each night, follow normal physician-recommended healthy sleep habits.

For more information on insomnia, view the following resources:

Insomnia overview | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment 

If you have insomnia or other sleep problems, talk to your physician or visit an AASM Accredited Sleep Center near you.