This Sunday 96% of America (we’re looking at you Arizona and Hawaii) will take an involuntary one hour leap into the future when daylight saving officially comes to a close. It’s a day that means one less hour to get dinner ready, one less hour to exercise, and most importantly one less hour to sleep.
What exactly are the effects of losing this precious hour?
“It’s more than losing an hour,” Pete Bils, the Vice President of sleep innovation and clinical research at Sleep Number tells us. “If you actually set the table and look at the timeframe of daylight saving time it's kind of setting up a perfect storm of sleep problems. We're just not well slept to begin with. So now we're going to rob another hour this weekend. That's gonna put a lot of the people into the danger zone.”
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Bils explains that the Monday after we push our clocks forward is rife with disaster. He discusses the higher instances of road rage, and accidents both on the roadway and in the workplace. Bils also compared a person’s loss of sleep to jet lag, or even being a little bit inebriated.
The long term effects of sleep loss are even more worrisome. “Poor sleep affects just about everything that is measurable in the human body,” Bils says. “When you're sleep deprived you're at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, you're at a higher risk for heart attacks and strokes, you're three to five more likely to catch a cold [because] your immune system takes a whack as well.”
A lack of sleep can even make you really depressed. “Every bout of depression is preceded by a sleep issue,” Bils explains. “If the depression is then treated, relapse almost always happens after another bout of sleep problems. Our emotional systems are highly dependent on really good sleep. So go to bed!”
This strong advice could be pretty convincing for adults, but those with children might face the double trouble of both their own sleep and their children’s as well. Bils advises that you slowly introduce earlier bedtimes through the week; restrict TV, computer and mobile screen use before bedtime, avoid any caffeine after noon, and (lastly) to try tricking your family by winding the clocks ahead before you need to.
At the end of the day you’ll survive this Monday (despite what you may think), all you need to do is prepare. “Usually the advice I give to people is on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday just lay low,” Bils warns. “Don't make any big decisions be more careful than you normally would, don't accept marriage proposals don't do anything that's critical.”
Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely@mattlee2669.