News Release

March 31, 2004

Contact: Jane Shaskan, 860-679-4777

What a Difference an Hour Makes

UConn Sleep Expert Offers Tips for Changeover to Daylight Saving Time

FARMINGTON, Conn. – Let there be light – daylight saving time that is. We’re all ready for that extra hour of daytime, but according to sleep expert Daniel McNally, M.D., it doesn’t happen without cost.

"Moving the clock ahead for daylight saving time is more stressful and actually harder on the sleep cycle than the time change that takes place in the fall," said Dr. McNally, director of the Sleep Disorder Center at UConn Health Center. "Our biological clocks want to go forward – to go to sleep a bit later and get up a bit later every day – but the spring change means it’s the other way around; we lose an hour’s sleep," he said. "Getting up an hour earlier will be tough for some. The only consolation is most of us enjoy the extended daylight hours.”

Most of us can reasonably adjust to daylight saving time in a day or two. But, statistics show that many adults are not getting enough sleep in general, and for them daylight saving time adds insult to injury. So, don’t discount losing that extra hour of sleep, said Dr. McNally. He suggests getting to bed a little earlier over the weekend or taking a short nap Sunday, but not too close to bedtime.

For children, the time change can be a little more difficult. Don’t try to “make-up” the extra hour, suggests Dr. McNally. Instead keep up with kids’ regular sleep habits according to the new time. “Children might be cranky for a day or two, but if you try to compensate for the extra hour, you’ll have problems with their wakeup time or bedtime that can last for days,” he said. “Keeping wakeup time consistent, is the most important.”

Dr. McNally also suggests that parents consider changing to daylight saving time at Friday night bedtime. “This can give a child an extra day to adjust before going back to school Monday,” he said. “Or start Thursday night by making bedtime 15 minutes earlier and continue with the 15-minute regime throughout the weekend.”

Whenever sleep cycles are interrupted, whether it’s caused by daylight savings time, a bout of insomnia, a late night out or an early morning rising, or the big culprit, jet lag, you’re going to have a problem with fatigue which will affect your daily activities, said Dr. McNally. “Consistency in sleep times is one of the best tools for a restful night’s sleep. Daylight saving time stresses that a little,” said McNally.

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