Daylight saving time adds to the sleep problems of millions of Americans, experts say

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 5:58 PM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - The week of March 13th is National Sleep Awareness Week, which occurs after daylight saving time, as many are adjusting to losing an hour of sleep.

That’s why the St. Joseph Health System is reminding Michiana how crucial it is to get the right amount of quality sleep.

“Lack of sleep can lead to many medical problems,” says M.D., Majid Malik, the Medical Director of St. Joe Sleep Medicine.

According to the St. Joseph Health System, approximately 70 million Americans have a sleeping disorder, causing them to not get a proper amount of sleep.

“A lot of us don’t think about sleep as being important, but it impacts so many things. How we function at work, how we function at school, our heart health,” says Anna Matulewicz, a St. Joe Medicine Nurse Practitioner.

Experts say that adults need roughly 7 to 9 hours of sleep, teens need 8 to 10 hours, and kids ages 3 to 12 should be getting around 9 to 13 hours of sleep each night.

“So, making sure we’re devoting enough time to sleep. A lot of times, we shortchange ourselves in sleep because we’re busy,” Matulewicz says.

But, cutting sleep short can lead to serious health effects, including an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, infections, and cognitive problems, like Alzheimer’s.

“And also, it can lead to daytime drowsiness, lack of productivity, increase in accidents, and increase in medical errors,” Malik says.

So, how can you get a good amount of sleep?

“The most detriment factor in today’s world is our screen time,” Malik tells 16 News Now.

Because blue light makes it hard for your brain to fall asleep.

Which is why doctors share tips like avoiding cellphones and TVs before bed, as well as caffeine, dim the lights in your home an hour prior to bed, and set regular times for you to go sleep and wake up.

“Naps are helpful, but you want to limit them.... So, you can take a short nap and be refreshed but not unable to sleep then at night,” Matulewicz says.

Other tips experts have shared include getting at least 20 minutes of exercise each day, eating your last meal of the day early, and avoiding alcohol before bed.

However, sleep disorders like Insomnia and Sleep Apnea are serious conditions, and can make getting a good, quality nights rest almost impossible.

If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, you are encouraged to reach out to your doctor to set up a meeting with a sleep specialist.

To contact the SJHS Sleep Lab, click here.