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 says. 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 http://www.sleepfoundation.org or call 202-347-3471.
SOURCE National Sleep Foundation