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Manage switch to daylight saving time to avoid stress

Spring forward and fall back. Many people have heard these sayings, which are reminders of how to set clocks for the start and end of daylight saving time.

On March 8 at 2 a.m., clocks will be set ahead one hour, and people will lose an hour of sleep.

Muhammad Rishi, M.B.B.S., a pulmonologist and sleep medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, says altering your sleep schedule can have a greater effect on your health than you may think, with adverse effects greatest in teenagers and in those who already have poor sleep habits.

“The effects of losing an hour of sleep in the spring can linger for days to weeks,” Dr. Rishi says. “By making gradual adjustments to your sleep schedule, you can minimize the effects.”

Dr. Rishi recommends these tips to manage the transition to daylight savings time: Go to bed 15 minutes early, starting several days before the change, and increase by 15 minutes every couple of nights. Make an extra effort to be well-rested the week before the time change.

If you feel sleepy the Sunday after the change to daylight saving time, take a short 15- to 20-minute nap in the early afternoon — not too close to bedtime.

Assess how a nap affects your sleep quality. For some, napping can make nighttime sleeping more diffi cult. For others, however, a short nap can be revitalizing without affecting nighttime sleep.

Avoid sleeping in an hour longer in the morning.

In general, Dr. Rishi says you should try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.

“Regardless of the time of year, proper sleep is an essential habit for good health,” Dr. Rishi says. “While it may be tempting to sleep in on weekends, keeping a consistent schedule can help Monday mornings easier to bear.”

There are many benefits to practicing good sleep health, as well as some risks for cutting sleep too short: Learning and memory — Sleep allows the brain to better process new experiences and knowledge, and improves comprehension and memory.

Metabolism and weight — Sleep helps regulate the hormones that affect and control appetite. Studies have shown that the normal hormonal balance is affected and appetite increases during sleep deprivation.

Cardiovascular health — Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels and irregular heartbeat.

Mood — Insufficient sleep can make people more agitated or moody the following day. Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to long-term mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety.

Immunity — During sleep, the immune system releases proteins called “cytokines.” These proteins deal with stress, fight infections and decrease inflammation in the body. Without enough sleep, these protective proteins and other important infection-fighting cells are reduced. The body needs adequate sleep to fight infections and inflammation.

Alertness — Lack of sleep can take a toll on perception and judgment. In the workplace, its effects can be seen in reduced efficiency and productivity, errors and accidents. It also can be deadly, such as drowsy driving fatalities.

“Make sleep health a priority, and you’ll start seeing the positive effects,” Dr. Rishi concludes.