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CLEVELAND, Ohio — We may have sprung ahead a few days ago — but we’re still in the midst of National Sleep Awareness Week.

When Daylight Savings Time begins, we all lose one hour of sleep, and this week is meant to remind us all how important it is to our health.

Dr. Nancy Foldvary, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center, says that even losing just that one hour of sleep can throw someone off.

“We have a circadian rhythm that regulates when we sleep and when we are awake, so some people are vulnerable to even an hour of sleep loss. That can impair function, cognitive impairment, motor impairment, difficulty getting places on time and drowsy driving.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 75 percent of adult Americans have sleep disorder symptoms a few nights a week.

So how can you help yourself get enough sleep to operate properly?

Know how much time you should be spending asleep.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there’s an average amount of sleep your body needs depending on your age.

Those guidelines are:

— Ages 5-12, 10 to 11 hours
— Ages 13-18, 8.5 to 9.25 hours
— Adults, 7 to 9 hours

Keep a regular sleep-wake cycle.

Foldvary said that’s one of the most important factors in getting that good sleep and feeling rested. And the time you wake up is more important than the time you go to bed.

“Set a wake-up time and stick to it on weekends and vacations,” she said. “Eventually the way (and time) we fall asleep will be standardized as well.”

Let your brain relax.

Foldvary says that’s one of the best ways to get ready for bed.

But if you go to bed and can’t fall asleep, don’t lay there for more than 20 minutes trying to force yourself into it. That will only lead to frustration.

“That activates the brain, and it then becomes a habit,” she said. “Iron…read the front page of the paper…then go back to bed and try again.”

Having a hard time falling asleep? Here are a few tips…

1.) Don’t look at electronic devices before bed. Sunlight regulates wakefulness, so if you’re exposed to light at night, it will work against your ability to fall asleep.
2.) No caffeine past noon, unless you’re the type of person who has an easy time falling asleep.
3.) Don’t exercise within a couple of hours of bedtime; schedule work-out times for earlier in the day.
4.) If you’re a worrier, and it happens at bedtime, keep a ‘worry journal’ or a list of things to deal with when you get up in them morning.

Warning: Not getting the sleep you need will lead to health problems.

In adults, it can lead to:
— Cardiovascular disease
— Metabolic disturbances like obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes.
— Mood disorders like depression
— Substance abuse
— Academic under achievement

Likewise, in children a lack of sleep can affect:
— Mood
— Attention span
— Concentration
— Memory

According to studies and research, Foldvary says that “when people start getting enough sleep…the manifestations of chronic diseases can decline.”

For more from the Cleveland Clinic, click here. 

For much more from Foldvary, watch below:

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