News Release

March 28, 2006

Contact: Jane Shaskan, 860-679-4777

Sleepy Time

Sleep Deprived Lose Another Hour

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Each year National Sleep Awareness Week ends on the first Sunday in April coinciding with the return to Daylight Saving Time. Clocks move forward at 2 a.m. and millions of Americans lose an hour of sleep.

Americans are already sleep deprived, says Daniel McNally, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at UConn Health Center. According to a 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll, three-quarters of adults say they often have problems sleeping, and one-fourth say sleep problems have some impact on their daily lives.

“Sleep deprivation affects us all,” says McNally, “either directly or indirectly and often both. Sleepy teens, drowsy drivers, overworked adults – as a nation, we are just not getting enough sleep.”

A good night’s sleep, seven to eight hours for most adults, requires more than time. Dr. McNally offers these tips for a restful night’s sleep.

  • Avoid alcohol, especially in the evening. Alcohol can make you sleepier initially but will fragment and disrupt your later night's sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine, especially in the evening.
  • No eating, reading or watching TV in the bedroom. We want you to build a strong association between your bed and sleep, and other in bed activities like reading confuse your sleeping brain and weaken that association.
  • Make sure that there is nothing to disturb your sleep. Remove pets from the bedroom, keep the blinds drawn at night, and remove other sources of noise or disruption.
  • Face the alarm clock away from your bed to discourage becoming increasingly anxious as you watch the time tick away.
  • Make sure your mattress and bedding is comfortable and the temperature appropriate. Too warm a temperature at bedtime may hinder sleep, and exercise which warms you up, or hot showers right before bed, may be counterproductive.
  • After 20 minutes in bed, if you have not fallen asleep, leave the bedroom and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy and then return to bed. Repeat as many times as necessary.
  • No napping during the day or lying around in bed in the morning.
  • Expose yourself to bright sunlight during the day, especially in the morning when you wake up. This helps to keep your biological sleep clock in good order and may make it easier to sleep at night.
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This consistency is particularly important in the morning, where a fixed time of awakening, coupled with good, bright light, can help to keep your biological sleep clock regular.
  • Don’t use the snooze button on your alarm clock. Instead, set the alarm for when you want to get up and then do it.

"Moving the clock ahead one hour is more stressful and harder on the sleep cycle than the time change that takes place in the fall," said Dr. McNally. “That hour will be tough for many,” he said. “The upside is the majority of us will enjoy the extended daylight hours.”

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