Healthline: Spring forward smoothly

(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An extra hour of sunlight is a welcome sign of spring, but losing an hour of sleep makes a big difference for some people. Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, and adjusting to the change can take days, especially for children.

"Their sleep cycles are shorter in nature, so if you cut them an hour of sleep, it will have a greater effect on their ability to concentrate, focus the following day," said David Dayries, a registered polysomnographic technologist. Dayries runs the Sleep Center at the Spine Hospital of Louisiana within the NeuroMedical Center.

"Make sleep a priority," he often preaches. "There's a reason we're supposed to sleep a third of our lives."

Dayries recommends putting kids to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier the next few nights. The same advice goes for adults. Here's what else you can do to avoid feeling groggy and irritable on Monday:

• Limit naps to 30 minutes this weekend
• Get lots of fluids, but avoid alcohol and caffeine late in the day
• Eat big meals early
• Begin to wind down an hour before bedtime
• Get up at the same time, regardless of the sun
• Get physical: Any exercise is good, but an AM work-out is best

A study released last year linked the time change and an increase in the short-term risk for heart attack. Over a period of four years, hospitals in Michigan averaged 25% more heart attack patients on the Monday after the switch. The average leveled back out later in the week.

People should also be extra careful on the drive into work.

"There are more chances of error the next day, more chances of drowsy driving," said Dr. Harneet Walia. "It has been shown that more accidents occur the next day when the daylight changing time occurs, so definitely it can have a significant impact on functioning as well."

Dayries spends most of his days – and nights – conducting sleep studies. It's his job to determine what keeps people from getting their best shut-eye, whether it's a medical condition or something the patient is doing wrong. Sleep directly affects mental and physical health, and helps regulate weight.

"I have patients who tell me they'll eat three or four bites, and they'll notice they get kinda half-full, eat a little bit more and three-quarters full," Dayries explained. "People who have fragmented sleep, shift workers what have you, they don't have that sensation. They're either hungry or they're not, so they'll eat and eat and eat, typically they will overeat, and it forces the body to retain belly fat."

Seven to nine hours of sleep per night is recommended, with six being the absolute minimum. Dayries also says it's critical to sleep with the TV off, and other electronics away from the bed. The flickering light registers in your eyes and brain, whether you realize it or not.

"During the night you do have small, little arousals where you wake up just for a few seconds," he said. "And what that does, it turns what should have been two to three seconds into something longer, so now you're really all the way awake and awake for a protracted period of time."

Then there are those who do sleep the recommended amount of time, but still wake up tired.

"They're able to get to sleep, but they wake up two, three, four, five times, and they always seem to attribute it to something natural. Like 'Oh I'm getting older now, I have to go to the bathroom.' But if you're getting up five, six times at night, there's an issue," Dayries said.

Sleep studies are covered by most insurance plans, but a doctor's order is required. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

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