Healthy people, families, and communities.



 Spread Good Cheer for the Holidays, NOT the Flu! 

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Last year, Georgia experienced one of the worst flu seasons in recent history. Don’t fall victim to the flu this year, North Georgians – vaccinate before it’s too late! This holiday season, the North Georgia Health District encourages all residents 6 months of age and older to get a yearly flu vaccine.

Take time this season to schedule an appointment with your public health department in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens or Whitfield County to get your flu vaccine or contact your health care provider.

“It’s important that Georgians understand the best way to protect against influenza is to receive an annual flu vaccine,” said Sheila Lovett, Immunization director for the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Because Georgia saw one of the highest spikes in influenza cases last year, it’s more important than ever to get yourself and your family vaccinated.”

What is new this flu season?  

  • Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating flu viruses
  • Any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine is recommended
  • Ask your health department or health care provider about what vaccine is right for you Influenza can be a serious disease that leads to hospitalization and sometimes death. Regardless of race, age, gender or ethnicity, anyone can get sick from the flu. Those especially at risk are adults 65 years of age and older, children younger than 5, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or other long-term medical conditions. A flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu. With flu season beginning as early as August and sometimes lasting until May, it is never too late to vaccinate.


The recent National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 2-8) emphasized the importance of receiving an annual flu vaccination. Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from the flu. This winter, make it a top priority to call your county health department or health care provider and make an appointment to get vaccinated. For more information on immunization, visit:

children 13 for webWhen raising children, every parent could use a helping hand, but some parents are in need of special assistance with the health issues their children with special needs face. Our dedicated Child Health Services staff is committed to helping parents and their children with disabilities or serious health problems. As part of North Georgia Health District 1-2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health, we are based in Dalton and serve residents in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties. Please see our contact information down below.

Click HERE to see all the Child Health Services we offer to Children with Special Needs and to their families, or choose individual services below to review and link directly to more details:  



  • Children’s Medical Services supports families caring for children with special health care needs. CMS works with health care providers and community partners to make sure children and youth with chronic medical conditions have access to timely and quality health care services. Learn more about Children’s Medical Services.



 ---------- Refer a Child for a Free Health Screening ---------- 

Anyone can make a referral for any child up to age five to receive a free health or developmental screening. Click on the button below and submit a referral now!

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Click HERE to access Guidelines for Completing the form.

Contact us for more information about Children with Special Needs services in North Georgia!

North Georgia Health District

1710 Whitehouse Court
Dalton, Georgia  30720race
Phone: (706) 529-5763IMG 2169 copy
Fax: (706) 529-5767
Collier, Holli
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T day Tips

With the number of things that can go wrong in the home kitchen, steering clear of food safety blunders can be challenging. Whether it’s prepping a new dish, or prepping for more guests at your table, the USDA’s food safety experts keep food safety simple. Now, the North Georgia Health District is teaming up with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to provide food safety tips and resources.

“Thanksgiving dinner is one of the largest meals we prepare each year,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg. “Don’t cut corners and put your family at risk for foodborne illness by forgetting to wash your hands after handling the raw turkey, and always remember to use a food thermometer to be sure its cooked to 165 degrees.”

Food poisoning is a serious public health threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that millions of people suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Recent USDA research found that 34 percent of Americans may have someone at high risk for foodborne illness in their home.

To help your guests avoid getting sick this Thanksgiving, follow these simple steps:

20 seconds of hand washing
The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Handwashing is especially important when handling raw meats. Unfortunately, in a recent USDA study, participants failed to wash their hands sufficiently a shocking 97 percent of the time. Without proper handwashing, a well-intentioned home cook could quickly spread bacteria around the kitchen. Hand washing should always include five simple steps:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel.


Say no to ‘bird baths’
Say no to ‘bird baths.’ That is, do not rinse or wash your turkey. Doing so can spread bacteria around the kitchen, contaminating countertops, towels and other food. Washing poultry doesn’t remove bacteria from the bird. Only cooking the turkey to the correct internal temperature will ensure all bacteria are killed.

Do not forget to wash your hands before and after seasoning your bird too. Forty-eight percent of participants in our recent study contaminated their spice containers when seasoning poultry. If you’ve held raw turkey, make sure to wash your hands completely before seasoning, and if you rub around those spices on the bird by hand, make sure to wash your hands completely afterwards.

Take an accurate temp inside, cook the stuffing outside the turkey
Don’t rely on those pop-up thermometers to determine if your turkey is safe! Take the bird’s temperature with a food thermometer in three areas — the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh — and make sure all three locations reach 165°F. If one of those locations does not register at 165°F, then continue cooking until all three locations reach the correct internal temperature. In recent USDA research, 88 percent of participants did not cook their poultry to the safe internal cooking temperature of 165°F.

When stuffing is cooked inside the turkey’s cavity, it must be checked with a food thermometer and reach 165°F as well. The density of stuffing can mean that while the turkey’s breast, wing and thigh have registered 165°F, the stuffing temperature can lag behind. Turkeys are tricky enough, so it’s easier to keep things simple and cook the stuffing outside the bird.

Use the two-hour rule to avoid foodborne illness
Everyone loves to graze during Thanksgiving, but when perishable food sits at room temperature, it is sitting in a temperature range where bacteria love to multiply. This range, between 40-140°F, is known as the ‘danger zone.’ If foods have been left out at room temperature for more than two hours they should be discarded.

Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
If you have questions, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish. If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time. You can also chat live at during the hotline’s hours of operation.

Consumers with food safety questions can visit to learn more about how to safely select, thaw and prepare a turkey. For more Thanksgiving food safety tips, follow FSIS on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety or on Facebook at

 For ages 18 and older. . .

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NOW scheduling appointments and accepting new patients!

The Living Bridge Center South has opened in Canton! Georgia has the 4th highest rate of HIV infection in the nation. Now for people battling HIV, The Living Bridge Center South is there to help. The Living Bridge Center South offers full-service HIV care and treatment, HIV and STD testing, a PrEP clinic, and education and support to help people remain negative. Visit the Living Bridge Center South at 130 Riverstone Terrace, Suite 102, Canton, GA. Or call now at (470) 863-5700 to set up an enrollment appointment. Click here to get information about The Living Bridge Center program in North Georgia and the services provided.

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Visit The Living Bridge Center South at 130 Riverstone Terrace, Suite 102, Canton, GA 30114 or call (470) 863-5700 to make an appointment.

TLBC South Map

Click on the above map for directions and online navigation to The Living Bridge Center South in Canton.

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Click to watch video of The Living Bridge Center South's Grand Opening! 

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Click for CDC Diabetes Infographic in pdf

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant) . . . click here for information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

More than 100 million Americans are living with diabetes (30.3 million) or prediabetes (84.1 million) and many don't know it. It's important to get screened. Contact your county health department today. Click on the name of your county in the above toolbar for your county health department information.


GestationalNovember is National Diabetes Month, and for 2018, the CDC is emphasizing diabetes that can develop during pregnancy in women who don't already have diabetes, known as Gestational Diabetes. About 50% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes, but there are steps you can take to prevent it. Talk to your doctor about how to lower your risk and how often to have your blood sugar checked to make sure you’re on track. Log on here to learn more.


Living Well With Diabetes

senior man on bikeYou don’t get really good at dealing with diabetes overnight. But over time, you’ll figure out how to go from getting it done to taking it in stride. See if any of these tips are familiar (or worth trying!).

Remember when you first found out you had diabetes and learned the basics of taking care of yourself?

  • Make and eat healthy food.
  • Be active most days.
  • Test your blood sugar often.
  • Take medicines as prescribed, even if you feel good.
  • Learn ways to manage stress.
  • Cope with the emotional side of diabetes.
  • Go to checkups.

One way or another, you’ve had to try to make it all fit with family, work, school, holidays, and everything else in your life. Here’s our short list of tips to help – you’re probably familiar with many, but some may be new (feel free to use!). Long on here to the CDC for more information.

November 12th - 19th is Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance is November 20th. Join us with the CDC in supporting the transgender community by bringing visibility and awareness to the health issues and challenges they experience. Go to for more information! Contact our Living Bridge Center for more information in North Georgia.

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Click HERE to get information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about health issues and challenges people in the transgender community face each day. 

Transgender is a term for people whose gender identity or expression is different from their sex assigned at birth. Gender identity refers to a person’s internal understanding of their own gender. Gender expression describes a person’s outward presentation of their gender (for example, how they dress). Transgender women describes people who were assigned the male sex at birth but identify as women. Transgender men describes people who were assigned the female sex at birth but identify as men. Transgender men and women have health issues and challenges that are addressed by the CDC: 2018.

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    Click here to for the latest information about

HIV Among Transgender People.

Download the pdf Fact Sheet


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Ten things transgender people should discuss with their health providers



Trans TermsCDC Issue Brief2

Read the CDC Issue Brief HIV Transgender Communities, September 2016 article regarding strengthening prevention and Care for a Priority Population

Click here to learn the various Gender and Transgender terms 

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During this time of social distancing due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, North Georgia WIC is implementing alternative services for our clients to receive their vouchers. Please call (706) 370-4700.


All the latest guidance and recommendations from the Georgia Department of Public Health and the CDC can be found on the North Georgia Health District website at


See these WIC APPROVED FOOD CHANGES due to COVID-19 until Sept. 30, 2020

COVID 19 WIC Changes thru May 31        WIC Change 2

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Click to learn How WIC Helps improve the health of nutritionally at-risk women, infants and children!

Are YOU eligible for WIC benefits? WIC serves women, infants and children in families with income at or below 185 percent of the federally poverty level or enrolled in Medicaid and who are at risk for nutritional deficiencies. Participant categories consist of pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and infants and children up to their fifth birthday. Click to our WIC page to learn more, and if eligible, click below to sign up for WIC - today!


 Click here to




Lets Talk 2018 web Breastfeeding While Sick web

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Click on each of the above graphics for more information


This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

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For CDC WIC Info visit the CDC page.


This is Public Health web

Your local health department is a leader in improving the health and well-being of your community.

Your health department is responsible for:

  • Protecting you from health threats. Your health department works to prevent disease outbreaks and makes sure the tap water you drink, the restaurant food you eat and the air you breathe are all safe. It’s also ready to respond to any health emergency—be it bioterrorism, Ebola, West Nile Virus or an environmental hazard.
  • Educating you and your neighbors about health issues. Your health department gives you information about making healthy decisions, like exercising more, eating right, quitting smoking or simply washing your hands to keep from spreading illness. During a public health emergency, your health department also provides important alerts and warnings to protect your health.
  • Providing healthy solutions. Your health department offers easy access to the preventive care you need to avoid disease and maintain your health. It provides flu shots to the very young, the elderly and everyone in between, and it helps mothers get prenatal care to give their babies a healthy start. Your health department also provides children with regular check-ups, immunizations and good nutrition to help them grow and learn.
  • Advancing community health. Your health department takes part in developing new policies and standards that address existing and emerging challenges to your community’s health while enforcing a range of laws to help keep you safe. Your health department works through research and staff training to maintain healthy communities.


Look in the toolbar above for the name of your county and click to see all the services your health department has to offer!

What is the North Georgia Health District and how do we work with our local County Health Departments to provide Public Health Services in North Georgia?

North Georgia Health District 1-2, based in Dalton, is one of 18 districts under the Georgia Department of Public Health. This district provides administrative support to public health departments and environmental health offices in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties.

The health district, county health departments and environmental health offices coordinate public health services and programs to serve almost 430,000 people in North Georgia.

Improving the quality of people's lives through disease preventatives, healthy lifestyle education and emergency preparedness is part of our public health vision and mission here in North Georgia.

How does public health affect individuals, families and communities?

Infectious Diseases: Through the health district’s Infectious Diseases Department and our county health employees, the prevention of epidemics and spread of diseases in your community is ongoing.

Communicable diseases: Communicable diseases such as TB, Hepatitis, HIV, Norovirus, Lyme Disease, Giardia, Pertussis, Salmonella, and Rabies are reported to the Infectious Diseases office for investigation. Public health staff, locally and at the state level, monitors the health status of the community to identify outbreaks and epidemics and how to best provide preventive measures.

Anyone who may have been exposed to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) such as Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and/or HIV may receive education, testing, counseling, treatment and referral to appropriate specialists.

Those living with HIV are served by a health district administered program called The Living Bridge Center, provider of Ryan White Part B and Part C. Funded services include: outpatient HIV ambulatory care, primary care, and sub-specialty medical care; medical case management and adherence; oral health; non-medical case management; individual and group level mental health and substance abuse outpatient counseling; consumer advisory services; laboratory and nutritional services; pharmaceutical assistance; linguistic services; medical transportation; and, HIV counseling, testing, and prevention services. There are now two Living Bridge Center locations - in Dalton and Canton. Learn more by clicking HERE.

Immunizations: The prevention of disease and its spread are made possible through our life-saving immunizations to children and adults for influenza and other vaccine preventable diseases, including state required vaccinations for school registration.

Environmental Health: Our Environmental Health employees provide a wide variety of services, including inspections of hotels, restaurants, swimming pools and body art establishments; issuance of septic system permits; investigation of mosquito-borne diseases; collaboration of animal testing for rabies; lead investigations and education, and much more. Click HERE to access the Health Inspection Search Tool on our website to check the most recent health scores for restaurants in our six counties.

Emergency Preparedness: Through the North Georgia Health District's Emergency Preparedness Department, local plans are in place to respond to terrorism, natural disasters and other public health emergencies. Ongoing county, district and state public health emergency preparations are coordinated with community partners, including city and county governments, law enforcement, hospitals, healthcare facilities, schools, businesses, Emergency Medical Services, each county's Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and the counties' emergency operations centers.

Health Screenings: Public health promotes and encourages healthy behaviors and injury prevention through health screenings, including physical exams and screenings for breast and cervical cancer; family planning services and education; prenatal care; pregnancy tests; and, children's car seat safety education.

Women’s Health: County health department clinics provide comprehensive services for well women, including physical exams, breast and cervical cancer screening, family planning services and education, prenatal care and pregnancy tests.

Children’s Health: The Children's Clinic provides healthcare services to children from birth to 21 years of age. It is our goal to give children the best care available by providing services by an experienced and dedicated staff. These services include:

  •  Complete well child physicals
  •  Immunizations for children
  •  Immunizations for child caregivers
  •  Limited acute care for children
  •  Hearing, vision and dental screenings
  •  Car seat education program
Children With Special Needs: Children’s programs, based in the North Georgia Health District office and serving eligible residents throughout the health district, are Children’s Medical Services, Babies Can’t Wait and Children 1st.

-    Children’s Medical Services works to provide healthy outcomes for local children from birth to 21 years of age who have special healthcare needs, but their families are unable to afford this type of care. Children’s Medical Services coordinates access for these families and their children to affordable, quality specialty healthcare in areas such as hearing, neurology, cardiac services, orthopedics and genetic counseling.

-    Babies Can't Wait provides a coordinated, comprehensive system of services for infants and toddlers from birth to age three who have been identified as having special needs related to developmental delays and chronic health conditions.

-    Children 1st identifies children from birth to five years of age who are at risk for poor health and developmental outcomes. Children 1st serves as the single point of entry for these children to be connected with other public health programs and community services. Moreover, Children 1st provides follow-up services through the Universal Newborn Hearing, Screening and Intervention (UNHSI) program. Services through the UNHSI program include education and links to community resources for families of newborns that have failed a hearing test.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC): WIC services range from providing vouchers for healthy food purchases, tips on healthy meal choices and preparation for young children and mothers, nutritional support of breastfeeding moms and pregnant women to referrals to doctors, dentists, and programs such as Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Dental Clinic: The health district has a progressive, state-of-the art dental clinic and mobile van that provides basic dental care for children. These services are targeted toward children who have limited or no access to dental care and offers routine cleanings, exams, x-rays, fillings and extractions as well as sealants, space maintainers, baby tooth root canals, dental health programs for schools, dental screenings and referrals, and emergency care. The local Public Health Children’s Dental Clinic is in the Whitfield County Health Department at 800 Professional Boulevard in Dalton.

Medical Access Clinic: The Medical Access Clinic is located at the Whitfield County Health Department. The Medical Access Clinic, also known as MAC, is an adult primary care clinic that provides physical examinations, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and management of acute and chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disorders, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and neuropathy. The Medical Access Clinic is available in Whitfield County due to the combined efforts of the local community and the health district. 

MedBank: MedBank Clinics in Murray and Whitfield Counties help eligible clients secure prescription drugs from patient-assistance programs offered through participating pharmaceutical companies.

Vital Records: Vital Records services are available in our Cherokee, Gilmer and Whitfield County Health Departments for residents needing assistance in obtaining birth and death certificates. 

International Travel Clinic:The Gilmer County International Travel Clinic is based in the Gilmer County Health Department in Ellijay and provides comprehensive health services that travellers need before leaving for faraway lands.

Tobacco Prevention and Cessation: We conduct tobacco prevention and cessation education to warn people against the dangers of tobacco usage and secondhand smoke through mass broadcasting, health fairs and public presentations. We promote the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line (1-877-270-STOP) where tobacco cessation support is available to callers 24 hours every day, and we encourage businesses, schools, agencies and organizations to adopt 100% tobacco-free policies.

Time Change Fall 2018 web


DaylightSavingsTimeWebWe sprang forward last Spring. Now, we must Fall BACK, Sunday, Nov, 4. 2018.

We all know the saying to help us remember to adjust our clocks for the daylight saving time changes. But, what can we do to help workers adjust to the effects of the time change?  A few studies have examined these issues but many questions remain on this topic including the best strategies to cope with the time changes.

By moving the clocks ahead one hour in the Spring, we lose one hour which shifts work times and other scheduled events one hour earlier. This pushes most people to have a one hour earlier bedtime and wake up time. In the Fall, time moves back one hour.  We  gain one hour which shifts work times and other scheduled events one hour later thereby pushing most people to have a one hour later bedtime and wake up time.

It can take about one week for the body to adjust the new times for sleeping, eating, and activity (Harrision, 2013). Until they have adjusted, people can have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up at the right time. This can lead to sleep deprivation and reduction in performance, increasing the risk for mistakes including vehicle crashes. Workers can experience somewhat higher risks to both their health and safety after the time changes (Harrison, 2013). A study by Kirchberger and colleagues (2015) reported men and persons with heart disease may be at higher risk for a heart attack during the week after the time changes in the Spring and Fall.

The reason for these problems is thought to be disruption to circadian rhythms and sleep. Circadian rhythms are daily cycles of numerous hormones and other body functions that prepare us for the expected times for sleeping, eating, and activity. Circadian rhythms have difficulty adjusting to an abrupt one hour time change.

Other hazards for workers related to the time change in the Fall include a sudden change in the driving conditions in the late afternoon rush hour– from driving home from work during daylight hours to driving home in darkness. People may not have changed their driving habits to nighttime driving and might be at somewhat higher risk for a vehicle crash. Additionally, the Spring time change leads to more daylight in the evening which may disturb some people’s sleep.

To help reduce risks about one and a half weeks before the time changes in the Fall and Spring, employers can relay these points to help their workers.

  • Remind workers that several days after the time changes are associated with somewhat higher health and safety risks due to disturbances to circadian rhythms and sleep.
  • It can take one week for the body to adjust sleep times and circadian rhythms to the time change so consider reducing demanding physical and mental tasks as much as possible that week to allow oneself time to adjust.
  • Remind workers to be especially vigilant while driving, at work, and at home to protect themselves since others around them may be sleepier and at risk for making an error that can cause a vehicle crash or other accident.
  • Research found men and people with existing heart disease may be at risk for a heart attack after the time change.
  • Workers can improve their adaptation to the time change by using these suggestions (American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2013). Circadian rhythms and sleep are strongly influenced by several factors including timing of exposure to light and darkness, times of eating and exercise, and time of work. One way to help the body adjust is to gradually change the times for sleep, eating, and activity.
    • For the Spring time change, starting about three days before, one can gradually move up the timing of wakening and bedtime, meals, exercise, and exposure to light earlier by 15 – 20 minutes each day until these are in line with the new time. About one hour before bedtime, keep the lights dim and avoid electronic lit screens on computers, tablets, etc. to help the body move earlier the time it is ready to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night.
    • For the Fall time change, starting about three days before, one can gradually move the timing of wakening and bedtime, meals, exercise, and exposure to light later by 15 – 20 minutes each day until these are in line with the new time. About 1 hour after awakening in the morning, you can keep the lights dim and avoid electronic lit screens on computers, tablets, and so forth can help the body move to a later time that it is ready to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night.
    • Being sleep deprived before the time change will increase the health and safety risks so make it a priority to get enough sleep and be well rested several days before the time change.

Does the Time Change Effect Everyone Equally?

In short, no. People who sleep seven or less hours per day tend to have more problems with the time changes (Harrison, 2013). Additionally, a person’s natural tendency to get up early and go to bed early or get up late and go to bed late may also influence their ability to adjust to the one hour time changes in the Spring and Fall (Adan et al., 2012; Harrison, 2013). Those prone to naturally follow an “early to bed and early to rise” pattern (morningness) will tend to have more difficulties adjusting to the Fall time change because this goes against their natural tenancies. Conversely, those who naturally follow a “late to bed and late to rise” routine (eveningness) will tend to have more trouble with the Spring time change.

Morningness/eveningness tends to change as people age. Teenagers and young adults tend to be “evening” types, and researchers theorize this may be due to brain and body development at those ages. Younger workers therefore may have more difficulty adjusting to the Spring time change (Medina et al., 2015). Morningness increases as people age, so older adults tend to be “morning” types. As a result, older workers may have more trouble adjusting to the Fall time change. Finally, people who are on the extreme end of the eveningness or the morningness trait may tend to have more trouble adjusting their sleep to the time changes.

The online training program “NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours” has many suggestions for coping with various types of work schedules and improving sleep. Although it was designed for nurses, the information is relevant to many occupations. Part 1, Module 2 gives information about sleep and circadian rhythms and Module 4 discusses individual differences. In Part 2, Module 6 gives suggestions for improving sleep.

How have you dealt with the time change in the past? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Claire Caruso, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dr. Caruso is a research health scientist in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.

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