To prepare for the time change, Attarian recommends going to sleep earlier on Saturday and Sunday night, and getting exposure to bright outdoor or indoor light in the morning, which will help acclimate your body's clock to the new time. Attarian also reminds people that Daylight Savings is not the only time when it's important to focus on sleep regimen. Prolonged sleep problems have been associated with high blood pressure, weight gain and trouble with memory and learning.
"Most people experience some difficulty sleeping at some point, but don't talk with their doctors because they don't think there is help," said Attarian, who is also an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "It's important to know that trouble sleeping can be a sign of a sleep, medical or psychiatric disorder that can be improved with proper treatment."
The number of hours needed for sleep depends on individual factors and can range from seven to nine hours. Many Americans' standard work schedules now average nine to 10 hours, and daily challenges and stresses may make falling asleep quickly difficult. "The 24/7 culture that we now live in makes it difficult to transition from waking to sleeping hours, since cell phones, e-mail and computers are always at our fingertips," added Attarian.
According to Attarian, the common misconception that you "can get away" with less sleep is untrue. The amount of sleep you need is genetically predetermined and if you do not get the right amount you will accumulate a sleep debt which may require payback at inappropriate times. To help people get a good night's sleep this weekend and throughout the year, Attarian offers the following tips on proper sleep habits.
Consistency is key– Stick to a regular bed time; setting your internal clock helps your body auto-start the sleep process accordingly.
Work up a sweat– Exercise can give your body something to rest from and help you stay asleep at night. To allow enough wind-down time, it's best to complete exercise at least two to three hours before going to bed.
Set bedroom boundaries– Make sure the bedroom is only for going to sleep. It shouldn't be a place to watch TV, do work, surf the internet or eat.
Set the stage– Take a hot shower then get into a cool bed. The drop in your body's temperature after taking a hot shower and entering a cooler room is a process that naturally mimics day and night, and may help guide you to sleep.
Put your thoughts to bed– Jot down your to-do list for the next day and keep it near the bed to avoid racing thoughts that can prevent you from falling and staying asleep.
Relax - Avoid activities such as going online or watching TV that will hold your interest and keep you engaged. Listening to music or reading something that you find mindless in a dimly lit area may help you feel sleepy.
If sleep doesn't come naturally or you experience excessive sleepiness during the day despite a good sleep regimen, speak with your physician to determine the cause of sleep loss and regain control over your ability to be well-rested. Northwestern Memorial's Sleep Disorders Center conducts day and night studies for the diagnosis and treatment of a multitude of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, nocturnal behaviors such as sleep walking, talking and eating in sleep, acting out dreams, and narcolepsy.
Northwestern Medicine is the shared vision that joins Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in a collaborative effort to transform medicine through quality healthcare, academic excellence and scientific discovery.
For more information or to make an appointment visit www.nmh.org or call 312-926-0779.
About Northwestern Memorial HealthCare
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare is the parent corporation of Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital, an 894-bed academic medical center hospital and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, a 201-bed community hospital located in Lake Forest, Illinois.
About Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Northwestern Memorial is one of the country's premier academic medical center hospitals and is the primary teaching hospital of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Along with its Prentice Women's Hospital and Stone Institute of Psychiatry, the hospital has 1,705 affiliated physicians and 6,769 employees. Northwestern Memorial is recognized for providing exemplary patient care and state-of-the art advancements in the areas of cardiovascular care; women's health; oncology; neurology and neurosurgery; solid organ and soft tissue transplants and orthopaedics.
Northwestern Memorial has nursing Magnet Status, the nation's highest recognition for patient care and nursing excellence. And, Northwestern Memorial ranks 12th in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report 2012 Honor Roll of "America's Best Hospitals". The hospital is ranked in 12 of 16 clinical specialties rated by U.S. News and is No. 1 in Illinois and Chicago in U.S. News' 2012 state and metro rankings, respectively. For 13 years running, Northwestern Memorial has been rated among the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" guide by Working Mother magazine. The hospital is a recipient of the prestigious National Quality Health Care Award and has been chosen by Chicagoans as the Consumer Choice according to the National Research Corporation's annual survey for 14 years.