Saturday, March 13, 2010

Daylight Savings Time Starts Tomorrow

If you find yourself tired at work next Monday morning, it could be because this weekend will be the shortest one of the year. (Don’t forget to “spring” your clocks forward before bed tonight, as Daylight Savings Time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday.) Or, it could be because you suffer from one or more of 85 known sleep disorders.

This past week (March 7 – 13) was National Sleep Awareness Week. Doctors estimate that 60 million Americans suffer from one or more sleep disorders, and yet it is believed that 95 percent of sleep disorder cases remain undiagnosed.

This is unfortunate. Lack of quality sleep is often responsible for car crashes and mistakes and accidents in the workplace.

Plus some sleep disorders, like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), exact a heavy toll on one’s health. OSA has been linked to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. OSA, in which the upper airway repeatedly becomes blocked during sleep, is a condition that affects 24 percent of men and 8 percent of women. Symptoms include loud, irregular snoring; restless sleep with frequent (and possibly unnoticed) awakening; and waking up with a headache, dry mouth and/or sore throat.

Other common sleep disorder symptoms include daytime sleepiness; frequent nighttime urination; irritability or moodiness; memory loss; and poor concentration.

If you haven’t been getting a good night’s sleep lately, you owe it to yourself – and to your long-term health – to talk with your doctor about having a sleep study and seeing a sleep specialist.

Sleep studies are covered by most insurance plans. If you have a referral from your physician for a sleep study and consultation, appointments for a sleep study are available seven days a week at the sleep centers at Northwest and Sinai Hospitals. To schedule a sleep study, call 410-601-9355.

Daylight Savings Fun Facts

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was the first one to record the idea of daylight savings? He thought it could be an economical way to save energy if church bells would ring earlier than usual in the summer to wake up people shortly after sunrise. With the early waking time, people would be persuaded to go to bed sooner, thus saving on candles and oil for lamps to light time spent awake in the dark.

In the U.S., Daylight Savings Time (DST) began in 1918. At that time, each local jurisdiction passed its own rules about whether or not to go on DST and on what day, which occasionally led to confusion about what time it was and where. (Imagine what air travel must have been like in those days!) Not until 1966 did the United States pass the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the dates that states must observe DST. However, states are still free to not use DST, and Arizona and Hawaii are currently the only ones that skip the biannual ritual of changing clocks.

What do you think about DST? Does it affect your sleep?

If you have repeated sleep problems and want to schedule an appointment at a sleep center, call 410-601-WELL.

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