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Spring ahead the right way

Waking up early on a Monday is challenging enough for some; but, with the clocks turned ahead an hour for daylight saving time, morning fatigue can be even worse. Sleep experts say getting to bed early and taking a nap can help get sleep cycles back on track. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun)

The start of daylight saving time means more sunlight in the evenings, but that one-hour jump forward can make mornings particularly difficult this week.

“Adjusting our internal clocks with the change in season can take some getting used to, especially after a long winter that we’re experiencing this year,” according to Jeff Norton, respiratory therapist and Sleep Center manager at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing.

Sleep specialists say getting to bed earlier and making sure to get exposure to strong light in the morning can help people adjust to the new schedule.

Just how much sleep a person needs varies for individuals and age groups, but the National Sleep Foundation suggests adults get 7-9 hours of it each night. For school-aged children, the recommendation jumps to 11-12 hours.

Getting enough sleep has been shown to lower stress, help in maintaining a healthy weight, improve athletic performance and increase cognitive abilities, the foundation says.

Norton said daylight saving time is a good reminder for people to practice healthy sleeping habits.

Mayo Clinic Health System says to follow these guidelines to improve sleep:

•Reduce stimuli at bedtime

•Keep the bedroom cool, quiet and dark

•Maintain a consistent sleeping and waking schedule

•Follow a bedtime routine

Nearly a third of adults reported getting less than seven hours of sleep per night, according to a 2011 national sleep survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tips for switching to daylight saving time

Here are some tips for easing the adjustment to daylight saving time.

•Take a short nap in the afternoon, no more than 20 minutes long, if you feel sleepy after the time change.

•Adults need seven or eight hours of sleep – commit to getting that much sleep by counting backward from your wake time.

•Make sleep a priority by maintaining a consistent sleep-and-wake schedule, even on weekends.

•Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco before bed. All can interfere with sleep.

•Finish eating at least two or three hours before going to bed.

•Make your bedroom free of distractions.

(Source: Better Sleep Council)

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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