PacSci Perspectives

UW Professor Sounds Off On Sleep

By Michael V. Vitiello, PhD
Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
University of Washington

Michael Vitiello

In this short essay, sleep researcher Michael V. Vitiello, a University of Washington professor, shares advice and his perspective on the time change. Prof. Vitiello serves as co-director of the Center for Research in the Management of Sleep Disturbance and editor-in-chief (for the Americas) of Sleep Medicine Reviews. He is a content specialist for Wellbody Academy. 

Originally proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, (although not adopted until World War I in an effort to save energy) daylight saving time is observed in most of North America and Europe.

This means that the twice annual changing of clock time is again upon us.

This change will occur automatically for most computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, but will not be biologically automatic for any human being. Waking up on Monday morning may not be so easy as our biological rhythms continue to be what they were on Sunday.

Research has shown that time changes are associated with significant increases in motor vehicle accidents and heart attacks, suggesting that our biology is exquisitely sensitive to shifts in the timing of our circadian rhythms versus the natural environment.

Those who may adversely experience the effects of falling back may want to try and get as much exposure to natural light as possible and increase their levels of exercise/activity as much as possible in the days following the return to daylight saving time as these factors are known to help re-synchronize the body’s biological clock with the external environment.

In this UW video, Prof. Vitiello discusses what sleep can do for your health, why we tend to get less than we need, and the link between sleep and illness. He also shares tips on getting good quality sleep and resources for what to do if you have a sleep disorder,

Here are more tips from Wellbody Blog on resetting your body clock and how much sleep is enough. Experience the Slumbertorium at Professor’s Wellbody’s Academy of Health & Wellness to learn how to get your REM on!

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