Saving Daylight, Losing Sleep: Insomnia Awareness Day is March 10

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 As Americans prepare to "spring forward" this weekend for daylight saving time, the potential lost hour of sleep is a reminder of the widespread problem of insomnia. With this, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is declaring Insomnia Awareness Day on Monday, March 10, reminding those who suffer from chronic insomnia that help is available from the sleep team at a local AASM accredited sleep center.

Temporary insomnia symptoms, which occur in about 30 to 35 percent of adults, can be caused by a sudden change in schedule, such as the shift to daylight saving time. As many as 10 percent of adults have a chronic insomnia disorder, which involves ongoing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or regularly waking up earlier than desired, despite an adequate opportunity for sleep. It's characterized by symptoms such as daytime fatigue, worry about sleep, cognitive impairment, irritability and lack of energy.

Complications of persistent insomnia include increased risks for depression and hypertension. Effective treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI), which can significantly improve overall well-being and quality of life.

"The grogginess we may feel Sunday morning after the change to daylight saving time provides a brief glimpse of how people with insomnia feel on a regular basis," said Dr. M. Safwan Badr, president of the AASM. "Although chronic insomnia is common, it is treatable. The sleep medicine professionals at an AASM accredited sleep center can discover the cause of insomnia and determine the best treatment option to restore healthy sleep and promote a healthier life."

To minimize insomnia symptoms during the transition to daylight saving time, the AASM recommends adjusting your sleep schedule before Sunday:

Go to bed 15 or 20 minutes earlier each night before the time change. This will give your body time to adjust.

Begin to adjust the timing of other daily routines that are "time cues" for your body (e.g., start eating dinner a little earlier each night).

On Saturday night, set your clocks ahead one hour in the early evening. Then go to sleep at your normal bedtime.

Head outdoors for some early morning sunlight on Sunday. The bright light will help set your internal clock, which regulates sleep and alertness.

Stick to your usual bedtime on Sunday night to get plenty of sleep before the workweek begins on Monday.

Chronic insomnia can be a severe detriment to physical, mental and emotional health by negatively impacting daytime alertness, mood, memory and cognitive function. Data shows that health care costs are consistently higher in people with moderate to severe insomnia.

"Far too many people accept sleep problems as a way of life," said Dr. Badr. "But the truth is sleep makes you healthier, happier and smarter. Without quality sleep, your mental and physical health suffers greatly, putting you at an increased risk for chronic illness."

Insomnia also has been found to negatively affect work and school performance, impairing concentration and motivation while increasing the risk of errors and accidents. It's estimated that insomnia is associated with losses in work performance in the US equal to $63.2 billion each year.

For more information, or to find a local AASM accredited sleep center, visit sleepeducation.org.