Experts Warn Daylight Saving Time Can Impact Brain Function

Experts urge you to put off important projects in these first few weeks after Daylight Saving Time.

Research indicates an increase in health risks and accidents as the body adjusts.

Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It's forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information.

Studies show that a good night's sleep improves learning. Whether you're learning math, how to play the piano, how to perfect your golf swing, or how to drive a car, sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.

Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels.

Sleep also helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (hireling) or full (lepton). When you don't get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you're well-rested.

Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes.

Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds. For example, if you're sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections.

The amount of sleep you need varies throughout your life.

Newborn babies need between 16-19 hours a day, and pre-school age children need between 11 and 12 hours.

Once in school, kids should get at least 10 hours of sleep a day, and even as they enter their teens, it’s usually recommended at 9-10 hours a day.

Generally speaking for adults, 7-8 hours a sleep recommended a day.

If you are getting less sleep than this on a regular basis, you should think about seeing a doctor.

Lack of sleep can really impact your body, physically, mentally and emotionally.

If you're sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.

Children and teens that are sleep deficient may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation. They also may have problems paying attention, and they may get lower grades and feel stressed.

Ongoing sleep deficiency has also been shown to link to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. 

Sleep deficiency also increases the risk of obesity. For example, one study of teenagers showed that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up. 

First thing to do is enjoy the additional hours of sunlight. Sunlight can have a very positive effect on your mood, so some people just have more energy with the time change.

With the time change, it’s important to maintain regular meal and exercise times with the clock change. If you exercise at 6 pm each night, still do it. And keep eating right so your body won’t be adjusting to multiple changing rhythms

Try to schedule important activities a few weeks after the clock shift since some fatigue, reduced concentration and even mood changes may happen after the clock change.

Insomnia, which effects about 10 percent of the nation, is the most common.

We also see folks with sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and other ailments.

With the right diagnoses, treatment can really help these patients.

Dr. Lis Cottrell was a special live guest on the CBS 58 News at 4 p.m.

Her interview is attached to this story.

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