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Time Change Can Trouble the Sleep-Deprived
Losing hour of slumber could make it risky to drive or stay alert

SATURDAY, April 3 (HealthDayNews) -- The switch to Daylight Savings Time on Sunday -- when the clocks move forward and you lose an hour of sleep -- could be dangerous for people who already suffer from a lack of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

One NSF poll found 43 percent of Americans reported being so sleepy during the day that it interferes with their daily activities a few days or more a month. Losing that extra hour of sleep this weekend could push some of those people over the edge, making it risky for them to drive or perform other tasks that require concentration and alertness.

The NSF poll found 51 percent of Americans reported driving while drowsy and 17 percent reported falling asleep behind the wheel. Sleepiness is responsible for about 100,000 auto crashes in the United States each year.

"Most people will admit they don't feel as good when they get too little sleep, but research shows that the consequences of sleep deprivation are far more severe than most people realize," Richard Gelula, NSF chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement.

"Memory, mood reaction time and alertness are diminished when we are sleep-deprived, and recent research has also found that our metabolism and endocrine functions are dramatically affected as well," Gelula said.

The NSF offers the following tips to help you cope with the time change:

  • Plan to get at least eight hours of sleep on Saturday night -- or more if you already feel tired.
  • To help your sleep pattern adjust to the time change, go to bed a half hour earlier than your normal weekday bedtime on Saturday night and sleep at least a half hour later on Sunday morning.
  • If you need more sleep on Sunday, take a nap in the middle of the afternoon. But don't take a nap later than 4 pm. That's too close to your bedtime and could disrupt your nighttime sleep.
  • Don't consume caffeinated beverages or food after the morning and avoid eating a heavy meal or drinking alcohol too close to bedtime.
  • Make sure to go to bed early enough on Sunday night to get at least eight hours of sleep.

If you do find yourself getting sleepy while driving, quickly find a safe place to get off the road and either switch drivers or take a nap, the NSF advises. Drinking a caffeinated beverage may help you temporarily overcome your drowsiness, but it may take 30 minutes to take effect.

More information

The NSF has more on how you can get a good night's sleep.

Copyright © 2002 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: National Sleep Foundation, news release, April 3, 2004

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