ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Now that we’ve moved our clock’s forward an hour, medical experts say public health can be at risk if you don’t adjust your schedule and sleeping habits this week.
Especially for those who are already suffering from a sleep disorder, it can be difficult to operate a vehicle putting others in danger.
Doctors advise that grown adults should be getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night to stay healthy. But losing an extra hour on top of any lack of sleep you already face not only keeps you tired all day but can weaken your body’s immune system.
Even though the sun stays up later in the day, doctors who specialize in sleep disorders warn taking one hour off from your sleep schedule with no adjustments can make the public’s health suffer.
“We know that sleep problems in general do increase the risks for other diseases,” Dr. Louis Papa explained. “We know that people who have poor sleep have a high risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Does that one week play a role, we don’t think so but when you look at billions of people when you’re screwing around with their time schedule, will it have that effect, that’s the concern.” The URMC professor of clinical medicine added.
Keeping to a healthy diet is one way to make sure your body gets back on a healthy sleep schedule. But doctors also urge you to give yourself time before bed to decompress and try to be asleep within 15 minutes of laying down.
“You’re in bed just for sleep and that’s it,” Dr. Papa advised. “You’re not looking at the computer, it’s not dinging on the side, you’re not watching TV and you’re not doing work in bed. Bed is for sleep and that’s it.”
Being sleep-deprived can also impact children. Golisano Children’s Hospital offers multiple treatments and ways to visit specialists. For more info on that click here.
Research from AAA found red flags for being sleep deprived include having trouble keeping your eyes open and not remembering what you’ve been doing the past few minutes. But drivers surveyed experiencing this downplayed these symptoms.
“25% of people who fit that description because they had their eyes closed for at least 15 seconds in the span of a minute told the evaluators that they were just a little bit drowsy and that’s the concern,” AAA communications specialist Mark Gruba said.
Doctors and AAA agree this combination can lead to an increase in car accidents this time of year. To prevent crashes, AAA encourages all drivers to only travel when they’re normally awake and take a break every two hours or 100 miles.
“Before you start driving make sure you got seven hours of sleep under your belt,” Gruba continued. “The other thing is you want to avoid heavy food because that can make you sluggish. You want to avoid medication that might make you drowsy behind the wheel. Resist that urge to keep driving.”
That survey from AAA also found 75% of drivers experiencing moderate or severe levels of drowsiness on the road only rated it felt low to them. If you or someone you know is suffering from a sleep disorder, you can contact URMC for help by clicking here.