As the clock “falls back” in autumn, you may wonder if that extra hour will help you "catch up" on sleep. Dr. Victoria Sharma, medical director of the Sharp Grossmont Hospital Sleep Disorders Center, has some answers.
According to Dr. Sharma, you may be able to alleviate some of the sleep debt, but you won’t ever be able to fully pay it off. While some people need more or less sleep than others, she recommends seven to eight hours for most people to function optimally.
She explains that when you find yourself consistently getting fewer than six hours of sleep, it can lead to decreased concentration, reaction time and productivity. Adding these side effects to your normal schedule can lead to irritability and feeling a reduced sense of well-being.
To avoid having to “catch up” on sleep in the first place, Dr. Sharma offers three rules on getting the most restful sleep:
- Avoid alcohol close to bedtime and any caffeine up to six hours prior to bedtime
- Keep the bed for sleep; avoid watching TV, reading, and playing on the phone or computer in bed
- Get to sleep at the right time to ensure you get seven to eight hours
“When I still have energy from the day, I like to relax by reading outside of the bed, close to bedtime,” says Dr. Sharma, stressing the importance of keeping the bed for sleeping only.
In the end, while you can never “catch up” on lost sleep completely, the one hour change should help decrease that debt.
For the news media: To talk with Dr. Sharma about sleep health for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.