All of us here at Select Comfort are adjusting to the time change which got me thinking about some of the more interesting or unknown sleep facts. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 150 million Americans – almost half the population of the United States – say they are not getting enough sleep. Reasons range from back pain to restlessness to job stress. Add one more reason to the list – Sunday, March 8 was Daylight Savings, when we turned the clocks ahead and lost one hour of sleep. Today is the perfect time to reevaluate the quality and quantity of sleep you are getting.
The loss of even one hour of sleep, especially the final hour, impacts how well people function throughout the day. People who are sleep deprived experience a negative affect on their mood, ability to focus, and risk their personal safety. In fact, research conducted at Queen’s College in Canada, shows that the level of impairment for sleep-deprived drivers is comparable to those who drive drunk. Studies suggest that as continuous daytime waking exceeds 16 hours, psychomotor performance deficits increase to levels equivalent to a blood alcohol content between 0.05 and 0.1% (.08% is the legal limit in most states). In fact, the number of accidents increases by approximately 7 percent today (the Monday after daylight savings).
I like to tell my friends not to make any important decisions on Sunday or Monday following DST because your judgment may be impaired. Like jet-lag, it could take a day or two to fully recover from a one-hour shift in your sleep schedule.
Making sleep a priority involves a few simple steps. First, set up a schedule – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Second, look at your sleep environment with a critical eye. Is the room too light, is it too hot? Is your mattress causing you discomfort? Investing in a mattress that allows you to adjust the firmness, like a Sleep Number bed, or a quality bed pillow that aligns your neck with your spine can improve sleep quality. Last, avoid activities close to bedtime that impede sleep like exercising or eating.
If you make sleep a priority during the entire year, loss of sleep due to daylight savings will have little affect on their overall health or safety.