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It is the time of year when we set our clocks ahead an hour for daylight saving time. While the extra hour of sunlight in the evening is nice, the shift can mess with your ability to get a good night’s sleep, affecting your well-being.

Dr. Brian Gonzalez, a Moffitt Cancer Center researcher who develops interventions to help patients sleep, compares the annual time change to the jet lag you would experience traveling to a new time zone. He adds that staying on a regular sleep cycle is good for your health.

One study estimates that on the Monday after we ‘spring forward,’ we lose about 40 minutes of sleep. This sleep loss and the simultaneous circadian may explain some of the health effects of the switch to daylight saving time, such as more heart attacks on the Monday after the switch,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez offers advice on adjusting to the new daylight saving time schedule.

  • Make the change gradual rather than abrupt. Starting a few days before the change, wake up about 15 minutes earlier. This way, the adjustment is gradual over three to four days rather than immediate.
  • Try to keep a regular sleep and wake schedule. This ensures you get enough opportunity for sleep.
  • Make the bedroom a dark, quiet and cool environment for sleep. For some, watching TV or using phones and tablets before bed can be counterproductive.
  • If you have difficulty sleeping, you should talk to your doctor or seek the help of an expert in behavioral sleep medicine. Some can be found at the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia international directory.

Sleeping seven to eight hours per night is associated with the best health outcomes. Getting less than seven hours or more than eight is usually linked with worse cardiovascular and other health outcomes.