Adapting to the time change before Daylight Saving Time

Losing an hour of sleep can have an impact
Adjusting to daylight saving time
Adjusting to daylight saving time
Updated: Mar. 8, 2019 at 11:12 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - On Sunday we’ll turn our clocks ahead one hour as Daylight Saving Time begins. In other words, we’re going to lose an hour of sleep. Does that really matter, losing that hour of sleep? I went to one of the nation’s leading sleep experts, who practices right here in Charlotte, to find out.

Dr. Douglas Kirsch is Medical Director for Carolinas HealthCare Sleep Medicine. He’s also president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and a professor in the departments of medicine and neurology at Atrium Health. He knows sleep.

“So, human beings can’t survive without sleep,” he says. “They need sleep to be maximally functional and to perform at their best and to be able to manage all the things that we do every day.”

Many people might think losing just an hour of sleep this weekend won’t make any difference. But it does.

Dr. Kirsch says, “When people aren’t getting enough sleep to start with, and then they lose an extra hour on top of that, that’s where they run into trouble. And so what we know, based on some of the data, is that heart attacks increase as we come right after time change in the next couple of days. Worse heart attacks. More car accidents. Probably again, because people are more sleep deprived, just by an hour! But an hour can make a huge difference in how functional you are for that day and the next couple of days because you’re still adjusting your pattern.”

Re-adjusting your body clock to the new time change may take a few days. So what’s the best way to handle it?

According to Dr. Kirsch, “The first thing is getting up in the morning and getting and getting as much light as you can. Because light will help you get your body clock set so that the next day your body will say, ‘oh, this is the time that I should naturally begin to get up.’ So light is important. The other thing is sometimes meals kind of help set our clock a little bit, right? So we all get used to eating dinner at the same time and breakfast at the same time. And so again, shifting those, even a little bit ahead of time, it’s Saturday maybe, or even Friday, if you can get to it...can sometimes help your clock get a little bit ready for that time change that’s coming ahead. So meals and light are really important in getting your body clock set.”

And what’s the best amount of sleep for you each night? Dr. Kirsch says we probably need at least seven hours a night for good health, eight is good, and some people need even more. But the thing is, he says, you need to get enough sleep for YOU. For more details on sleep, he recommends the website:

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