Daylight savings time ends this Sunday, prompting when the clocks turn back an hour. Many look forward to the extra hour of sleep when clocks fall back, but many health experts say it is just another disruption.
NBC 5 looked at data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), broken down by county, to determine how well residents of North Texas are sleeping.
In Dallas County, 37.2% of respondents reported not getting enough sleep. In Collin County, 35.4% of people told the CDC that they sleep fewer than seven hours in a 24-hour period.
CDC data showed 34.9% of respondents in Ellis County, and 36.3% in Kaufman County reported not getting enough sleep.
Tarrant and Rockwall Counties fared better, with only 33% saying that they do not get enough sleep in Rockwall County, while 33.2% in Tarrant County reported poor sleep.
Dr. Neha Gandhi, a Methodist Dallas Medical Center neurologist, told NBC 5 that it is possible to start taking steps to improve your sleep, no matter the location.
“Sleep is incredibly important,” said Gandhi. “We know that poor sleep can lead to various health conditions, which include mood disorders like depression and anxiety, obesity, [and] diabetes by changing your metabolic rate. It can cause cardiovascular diseases, meaning heart diseases and stroke in some people.”
She recommends monitoring the quality of your sleep, not just time spent in bed.
“Sometimes people do sleep seven hours, but they have frequent awakenings during the nighttime, so their quality of sleep is not good, and then they don’t feel refreshed during the daytime,” Gandhi explained. “I think part of the problem is people don’t acknowledge or know that they are sleep deprived.”
Experts say a key to getting better rest is to set a consistent bedtime and wake up at the same time every day.
“Bedtime routines are not just for children,” Terry Cralle, a registered nurse specializing in sleep at the Better Sleep Council, told NBC 5.
Cralle recommends that people set a bedtime alarm, dim the lights, and relax by doing something they would look forward to that does not involve screens or electronics. She advises doing the same routine in the same order each day.
Cralle also says to incorporate some exercise into your day, and if work makes you too tired to exercise, start by adding a few short walks.
“If you’re getting enough sleep, diet and exercise will fall into place much easier,” Cralle said.
If your mind is making it hard to fall asleep, Dr. Gandhi suggests setting aside some time to write down any troubling thoughts.
“Just write everything and then keep it aside in a journal. When you go to bed, do not try to think about those [worries],” she told NBC 5, adding that if you continue to struggle then seek help from a doctor.
Concerning the upcoming fall time change, Cralle explained that it is less disruptive than the start of daylight-saving time in the spring. But overall, a set standard time would benefit all.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine agrees. The organization calls for eliminating daylight-saving time in the U.S. to better align with human circadian biology.
The Senate has passed the bill the eliminate daylight-saving time, but the House of Representatives has not, meaning that it will not happen at the federal level without both halves of congress.