DARIEN, IL – While the brutal winter has many Americans excited to “spring forward,” this weekend’s shift to daylight saving time and the potential lost hour of sleep also are reminders of the widespread problem of insomnia.The importance of detecting and treating insomnia is emphasized by a new study from the University of Arizona, which shows that persistent insomnia is associated with an increased risk of death. To remind those who suffer from chronic insomnia that help is available from the sleep team at a local AASM accredited sleep center, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is recognizing the second annual Insomnia Awareness Day on Monday, March 9.

“When we wake up after shifting our clocks forward, the lost hour of sleep may leave us feeling groggy and fatigued – the way those with insomnia may feel on a day-to-day basis,” said Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the AASM. “For most of us, we recover from the time shift quickly – within a few days. However, those who suffer from chronic insomnia have increased risk for depression, hypertension and, as the latest study has shown, even death. Fortunately, effective treatment options, like cognitive behavioral therapy, can help you overcome insomnia and significantly improve your health and quality of life.”

As many as 30 to 35 percent of adults suffer from temporary insomnia, which can be caused by a sudden change in schedule, such as the shift to daylight saving time. Chronic insomnia, which affects as many as 10 percent of adults, involves ongoing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep – or regularly waking up earlier than desired – despite an adequate opportunity for sleep. It includes symptoms such as daytime fatigue, cognitive impairment, irritability and lack of energy. The latest findings now link chronic insomnia with an increased risk of death independent of other factors – such as age or gender. 

To minimize the effects of the transition to daylight saving time, the AASM recommends adjusting your sleep schedule ahead of time:

  • 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.
  • After the switch forward, head outdoors for some early morning sunlight. The bright light will help set your internal clock, which regulates sleep and alertness. 
  • Stick to your usual bedtime to get plenty of sleep before the workweek begins on Monday to promote your regular sleep routine.

“Sleep makes you happier, healthier and smarter,” said Dr. Morgenthaler. “But far too many people accept that sleep problems are just a part of life. Without quality sleep, physical and mental health suffers significantly, putting you at an increased risk for other problems.”

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

CONTACT: Katie Hatcher, L.C. Williams & Associates, 800-837-7123, 312-565-3900, or khatcher@lcwa.com

About The American Academy of Sleep Medicine 
Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) improves sleep health and promotes high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. With nearly 10,000 members, the AASM is the largest professional membership society for physicians, scientists and other health care providers dedicated to sleep medicine. For more information, visit www.aasm.org.