Sunday, April 2 Might Be Hazardous to Your Health, says National Sleep Foundation!; Sleepy Americans at Risk for Crashes, Accidents When Daylight Savings Time Begins

Mar 30, 2000, 00:00 ET from National Sleep Foundation

    WASHINGTON, March 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Daylight Savings Time begins in the
 U.S. on Sunday morning, April 2, at 2:00 am, when clocks are moved forward by
 one hour.  For the many Americans who are already sleep deprived, this could
 be a "nightmare."  According to a poll just released by the National Sleep
 Foundation (NSF), 43% of Americans report they are so sleepy during the day
 that it interferes with their daily activities a few days a month or more.
 Losing an additional hour of sleep over Saturday night can cause people to be
 sleepier than they already are and make driving very dangerous.
     Americans already get too little sleep. NSF's 2000 Sleep in America poll
 found that adults average fewer than 7 hours of sleep during the work week and
 a full third (33%) of people get less than 6.5 hours.  This is far less than
 the 8 hours of sleep recommended for most adults by sleep experts.  Although
 losing an hour might not seem like a lot, they add up, creating a sleep debt
 that jeopardizes our health and well-being.
     "Most people will admit they don't feel as good when they get too little
 sleep, but research shows that the consequences of sleep deprivation are far
 more severe than most people realize," says Richard Gelula, Executive Director
 of NSF. "Memory, mood, reaction time, and alertness are diminished when we are
 sleep deprived, and recent research has also found that our metabolism and
 endocrine functions are dramatically affected as well."
     The risk of danger increases when sleepy people have a critical task to
 perform, like driving.  In NSF's poll, half of Americans (51%) reported
 driving while drowsy during the past year and nearly one out of five (17%) say
 they have actually dozed off behind the wheel.  According to the National
 Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 100,000 auto accidents occur each year
 because of fall-asleep crashes.
     For health and safety, and just to feel good and function well, NSF
 recommends that Americans plan ahead and take steps to prevent sleep loss.
 "Daylight Savings Time is a good time to acknowledge our biological need for
 sleep and to make it a priority in our lives to get enough sleep," Gelula
     To not lose an hour of sleep over Saturday night and to feel as rested as
 possible by Monday morning, NSF recommends the following plan to help cope
 with the time change:
     *     Plan to get at least 8 hours of sleep Saturday night -- or more if
           you are already feeling tired.
     *     To adjust your sleep pattern to the time change, go to bed 1/2 hour
           earlier than your normal weekday bedtime on Saturday night and sleep
           at least 1/2 hour later on Sunday morning.
     *     If you need more sleep, plan to take a nap in the middle of the
           afternoon, but not after 4 pm, as this is too close to bedtime and
           can disrupt your nighttime sleep.
     *     Avoid caffeinated beverages and foods after the morning.
     *     Avoid eating a heavy meal or drinking alcohol too close to bedtime.
     *     On Sunday night, make sure to go to bed early enough to get at least
           8 hours of sleep.
     For people who find they are sleepy while driving, NSF recommends they
 quickly find a safe place to get off the road and either switch drivers or
 take a nap.  Drinking a caffeinated beverage can help some people to overcome
 drowsiness temporarily, but it may require 30 minutes to take effect.
     To help people obtain an objective measure of just how sleepy they really
 are, NSF also offers a toll-free telephone screening for daytime sleepiness.
 By calling 1-877-BE-AWAKE, callers take a private, interactive test that gives
 them a validated sleepiness score.  This information can be used to begin a
 personal commitment to getting more sleep or to talk about the problem with
 their doctor.
     National Sleep Awareness Week 2000 (March 27-April 2, 2000) is a public
 education and awareness campaign of NSF and its Cooperative Co-sponsors,
 including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Sleep Apnea
 Association, Association of Polysomnographic Technologists, Narcolepsy
 Network, NIH/NHLBI/NCSDR, Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, Sleep Disorders
 Dental Society, Sleep Research Society.
     The National Sleep Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to
 improving public health and safety by promoting public understanding of sleep
 and sleep disorders, and by supporting sleep and fatigue-related education,
 research and advocacy. For a copy of the poll and National Sleep Awareness
 Week 2000 information, visit or call

SOURCE National Sleep Foundation