Winter doesn’t officially end until later this month, but another sign of spring arrived last weekend: the start of daylight saving time.
Did you remember to set your clocks ahead one hour Sunday morning?
Many years ago, back when I was young and oblivious, I forgot to reset my clocks during an autumn “fall back” time change.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived for a Sunday morning event and there were no cars in the parking lot. Worse yet, I worked nights at the time, so getting up in the morning wasn’t exactly an easy task.
My embarrassment was compounded because I worked at this newspaper – and most likely had put the time change reminder message at the top of the front page.
I’m now the person who maniacally runs through the house to reset every timepiece.
Despite my joy at the march toward warmer and less snowy days, I do, however, find myself lamenting that lost hour of sleep.
I know I’m not alone, since a lot of my recent conversations have been about those 60 minutes we won’t get back until Sunday, Nov. 2.
One friend sarcastically questioned why the hour to be lost couldn’t be in the middle of her workday.
There’s even a debate about whether daylight saving time is a good idea, since the human body’s circadian rhythms can be thrown off.
A 2008 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in Sweden the risk of heart attacks went up during the three days after the time change in the spring. The study’s author pointed to the possibility that the disruption in sleep patterns might be to blame.
In any event, this might be a good time to reassess our sleeping patterns. So many of us aren’t getting enough sleep as it is, right?
So here are a few tips from the National Sleep Foundation (sleepfoundation.org):
n Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
n Avoid bright light in the evening and get some sunlight exposure in the morning.
n Use the bedroom for sleep. That means no work, computers, television or smartphones there.
n Choose a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as a warm bath or listening to calming music.
n Create a sleep environment that is quiet, dark and cool, with a comfortable mattress and pillows.
n Save worries for the daytime. Write concerns down in a “worry book” and deal with them the next day.
n If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired.
n Exercise regularly, but not close to bedtime.
n Excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring or “stop breathing” episodes during sleep are signs of sleep apnea and should be checked out by a health care professional.
Most of us will adjust to the new schedule in a few days, if we haven’t already. If nothing else, we can celebrate being a few hours closer to spring.
And I’m more than ready to put that “extra” daylight to good use.
• Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.