Dan LaMoore of Electric Time Co. moves a clock face...

Dan LaMoore of Electric Time Co. moves a clock face at the company's plant in Medfield, Mass. (Nov. 3, 2011) Credit: AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Daylight saving time may not kick in until Sunday at 2 a.m., when we turn clocks ahead. But, if you want to minimize the likelihood of losing an hour's sleep -- and its negative effects -- get the adjustment process started now.

On Friday and Saturday, start moving up incrementally the times of such regular activities as dinner and bedtime, says Amy Platt, 37, of Syosset, founder of LIParentSource.com, a family resource guide.

And, while it may still be light out when your child's earlier bedtime rolls around, just plan on drawing the shades and sticking to the schedule, says Platt, for whom the biannual time changes "used to be the bane of my existence" when her children, ages 9 and 5, were younger.

Sleep experts say that, with a possible lost-hour of shut-eye on the table, now is an especially good time to get familiar with traditional before-bed rituals that lead overall to better and longer sleep.

Think of it as "sleep hygiene" to help you achieve the seven to eight hours of shut-eye that most people need on a regular basis, says Dr. Rina Awan, assistant professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary diseases, critical care and sleep medicine at Stony Brook School of Medicine.

That means an hour or so before your optimal bedtime, start powering down yourself and your electronic devices, such as televisions, computers, video games and mobile devices. Start dimming the lights, take a warm bath, turn on calming music, she says.

By all means, steer clear of caffeine and high-jolt energy drinks after 2 p.m., she says.

Also, avoid activities that could trigger anxiety or negative emotions, she says, making Sunday night an especially bad time for balancing a checkbook or getting embroiled in a heated political discussion.

Most people will likely adjust to the new hour-earlier sleep rhythm within a day to a week, Awan says. The switch is more problematic, she says, for those who are already sleep deprived, such as shift workers and those with insomnia or sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea.

"People don't think an hour is a big deal," says Dr. Robert Oexman, a sleep researcher in Joplin, Mo. They think, "I can power through it."

Indeed, many can, but research shows an uptick in the number of driving accidents and heart attacks in the days following such time switches, says Oexman, who also trains the sales staff of Sleepy's, a Hicksville-based retail mattress chain, in sleep issues and best practices.

He agrees with Platt -- don't wait for Sunday night to go cold-turkey and expect yourself to get in bed and fall asleep an hour earlier. Over the next two nights, start getting acclimated to an earlier lights-out time, he says.

Also, lower the temperature in the bedroom, which makes it easier to fall asleep, he says. And, if you can't achieve a dark and quiet bedroom environment, try using an eye mask to eliminate light or a white noise machine to muffle sound.

If you're prone to waking up in the middle of the night and watching television, unplug the set before you go to bed, making it harder to re-engage in an activity that can make it harder for you to get back to sleep, he says.

If all else fails, he and Awan say to fast-forward to Monday and think of how you'll fare during the day if you're a little sleep-deprived. Then think of the positive effects of getting enough shut-eye on a regular basis, which they say can include improved mood, memory, focus, productivity and decision-making.

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