Avoid downsides of Daylight Saving Time with behavioral changes

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The idea of losing an hour of sleep when clocks spring forward for Daylight Saving Time this Sunday is annoying, but can also have negative impacts on your health and safety.

Many of us are quick to blame DST itself as being the problem, when a more proactive solution to not suffering from it's downside lies in your own actions.

Sleep medicine specialist Dr. Brad Bittle with Saint Francis Medical Center said not getting enough sleep is a common problem, and losing just one hour this weekend can compound the negative effects.

"When there is a sleep loss there is a variety of health consequences," Bittle said. "It can make you more lethargic at work, it can make you fatigued, it can lead to a daytime headache."

Sargent Rick Schmidt, with the Cape Girardeau Police Department, said drowsy driving can also have dangerous consequences for safety on roadways.

"Any time you're distracted or tired It just slows down your skills behind the wheel to a point where you can hurt or kill yourself or other motorists on the road," Schmidt said.

Dr. Bittle encourages all of us to get ready for the time change this Sunday and said it's important to do safe sleep hygiene practices.

"Making sure your bedroom is dark," Bittle said. "The bed is comfortable, the temperature is appropriate, you're not doing things like looking at an iPhone or an iPad or a computer. Using those things later in the evening close to bedtime can limit your ability to get to sleep."

Bittle suggests exchanging time with electronic devices for other activities.

"A book, some gentle stretching exercises close to bedtime can sometimes help," Bittle said. "A warm bath can sometimes help, and taking a bath sometimes help, and just taking time to slow down at the end of the day is oftentimes helpful.

Bittle said most people adapt very quickly to springing forward because there is more light in the evenings, and some people experience more fatigue when time falls back for the other daylight saving.

The doctor also said people should avoid taking prescription drugs and that caffeinated beverages can help in moderation.

"You certainly want to limit your caffeine to before noon and not after and limit it to a few cups of coffee at the most," Bittle said.

And if you're still feeling groggy before your commute Sgt. Schmidt offers these tips to travel safely.

"Pay attention to what you are doing behind the wheel," Schmidt said. "If you feel a little-tired roll the window down. If you need to leave a little bit earlier. If it's a longer trip make more stops. Technically you've lost an hour but you can make up for that by the way you behave."

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Copyright 2018 KFVS. All rights reserved. The AP contributed to this report.