Turning Back the Clocks...and Your Sleep Habits

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It's that time of year again!  Get ready to turn back the clocks early Sunday morning with the end of daylight saving time, but falling back can take a toll on your health.

Angela Leger is a registered nurse in Lake Charles Memorial's Emergency Room.  She works 12-hour shifts and is what is considered a flip-flopper in shift work.  "I go from nights to days, whatever they need, that's what I do," says Leger.

Switching hours and sleep schedules is something that over 15 million Americans do each day.  But these irregular schedules can take a major toll on your sleep patterns and health.  LCMH Sleep Center Director Boyace Harlan says, "A lot of our heart disease, diabetes, patients with pulmonary problems end up having a lot of problems and they're very, very compromised."

Harlan says sleep deprivation kicks in when people try to sleep during daylight hours.  "When the individuals are asked to sleep during the day," says Harlan, "typically they're going to sleep shorter hours than someone who sleeps at night."

This rings true for Leger.  "Four hours is great for a night shift, six is wonderful," says Leger, "day shift, six is great, eight is wonderful. It's just totally different because you just don't have the time. You have things to do...you still have a life to live when you do get up."

As the clocks roll back an hour with the end of daylight saving time, this is just another obstacle for those struggling sleepers to face. Since it takes a few days for the hour setback to become normal for your body, Harlan suggests making changes now.  "A couple of days start advancing your time by 15 minutes or so and see if that makes a difference," says Harlan.

If you have trouble getting a restful chunk of sleep, don't nap! Stay awake and when it's nearing your night time - even if that's in the middle of the day - get in a routine. If it's reading a book to wind down or taking a warm bath, cue your body that it's time to sleep.

*If something more than your biological clock might be impacting the quality of your sleep, call Memorial's Sleep Health Center at 494-2393.