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Some tips so you won't lose sleep over Daylight Savings Time

The good part about Daylight Saving Time (which starts at 2 a.m. Sunday)? It’s not dark when you drive home at night! The not-so-good part? When it starts, you lose an hour.

And who among us doesn’t have a sinking-feeling Sunday-morning memory of showing up for church (or running group or coffee with a friend) just as everyone was leaving? And then we remember we forgot to set the clocks forward the night before.

That first day of work, chances are we are oh so sleepy. You might have read reports about how changing over to DST affects our bodies: Are we more likely to have heart attacks? To be in car crashes? To be crabbier? (OK, we don’t really have an answer for that one.)

So we turn to Dr. Joseph Takahashi of UT Southwestern Medical Center. He’s the person responsible for finding out that there is a gene that controls your body clock. So if your dad was an early bird, well, that might explain why you think sleeping till
7 a.m. is a travesty.

Here’s how Takahashi answers a few concerns about Daylight Saving Time:

Q: Will I be less attentive than I usually am at work or school?

Springing forward by an hour, he says, will more likely affect owls – those who stay up later and wake up later – than larks. But come fall, when the clocks are set back to ditch DST, well, owls just might get their payback.

Q: Are people more likely to get cluster headaches because of Daylight Saving Time?

“I’m not aware of any studies that have directly linked Daylight Saving Time with cluster headaches,” Takahashi says, “so it could be a coincidence.” Or, he says, they might be triggered by “the slight additional stress caused by resetting our rhythms.”

Q: If car wrecks spike [as some studies have shown and others discounted] after DST, what can I do to stay safe?

Says Takahashi: “Perhaps it might be a good approach to be sure to go to sleep slightly ahead of your normal bedtime, have an extra coffee and be vigilant on the road.”

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has some suggestions on what you should start doing right now – not Sunday morning at 2 – to mitigate the adjustment process:

• Go to bed 15 to 20 minutes earlier each night.

• Adjust the timing of other clock-related activities.

You always have dinner at 7? Start eating at 6.

• Saturday night, set your clocks ahead early in the evening.

That way, come 11 o’clock bedtime, you’ll just go to bed, not think: “Oh my gosh, it’s midnight! I should already be asleep!” and thus, not be able to sleep a wink.

• Monday night, go to bed when the clock says it’s time.

None of this, “Well, it’s really not bedtime yet.” Trust us; it is.

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