Springing forward: effects of sleep deprivation

The Centers for Disease Control says America is in the midst of a sleep deprivation epidemic. Half of all adults say they are not getting enough sleep.  Springing forward this weekend will mean the automatic loss of another hour of sleep, affecting moods and productivity.

Bill Goodberlet is a truck driver from Georgia that spends long days behind the wheel - a dangerous place to be when you are feeling drowsy.  "At one point, I could sleep 18 to 24 hours a day and still be sleepy," he said.

For three years, Bill struggled with waking up throughout the night and not getting the deep sleep to feel energized.

On the road, he tried everything to stay awake.  "Roll the windows down and listen to the music," he said, "pull over and get coffee and just get out of the truck and walk around."

When sleep deprivation started to affect his relationship with his family, Bill finally saw a sleep expert.

Michelle Zimmerman is a family nurse practitioner with the Sleep Disorder Center of Louisiana in Lake Charles.  She says a lack of ZZZs affects much more than your mood.  "Complaints of fatigue, complaints of depression, lack of energy, weight gain," she said, "you can also develop high blood pressure and be at a greater risk of stroke."

Falling back an hour in the fall can leave people feeling tired earlier.  Springing forward has the opposite effect and can set people into overdrive with more daylight to burn.  "Working late into the evening, going to work-out at 9:00 at night," said Zimmerman, "that is not going to do us any favors."

Keeping healthy habits, a normal schedule and sleeping in a dark, cool room can combat the springing forward stress. For some, though, those changes are not enough and a more extreme step must be taken to get real sleep.

Bill's solution came through a machine that helps him breathe steadily through the night, allowing him to truly sleep peacefully.  "I dream," he said, "I wake up and I'm refreshed and ready to go."

We spring forward in the wee hours Sunday morning!  You can get a head start on the time change now by setting your clock ahead 30 minutes over the next two nights.

Copyright KPLC 2014.  All rights reserved.