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Spring forward: The sleep-deprived have the most to lose

Everyone will notice a difference when we set the clocks ahead this weekend, but those who don't sleep well will be the most affected.

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published March 11, 2016

“If you go to bed when you are sleepy, avoid stimulating activity and bright light before bedtime, and expose yourself to bright light first thing in the morning, you should be fine.”
Jennifer Henderson, clinical assistant professor
Department of Medicine

Don’t get stressed about losing an hour this weekend, advises UB faculty member Jennifer G. Henderson.

While everyone will notice the difference, those who don’t sleep well will be most impacted.

“Those who already suffer from sleep disruption will likely see an uptick in their symptoms as they lose another hour of sleep,” says Henderson, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It can exacerbate mood disorders and further disrupt sleep in patients suffering from dementia and/or insomnia.”

Henderson, who completed a sleep fellowship at the UB medical school, sees patients through UBMD Internal Medicine at its Sleep Medicine Clinic sites.

All of us will feel the time change, she says. “The average person will feel as though they are jet-lagged by one hour with increased fatigue, irritable mood, less productivity and increased likelihood of binge eating,” she says. “Those who routinely get seven to eight hours of sleep a night will have the easiest time adapting. For most people, the symptoms will be annoying, but short-lived. Focusing on it too much may actually increase a person’s anxiety surrounding the time change and exacerbate the situation,” she says.

“If you go to bed when you are sleepy, avoid stimulating activity and bright light before bedtime, and expose yourself to bright light first thing in the morning, you should be fine.”