Feeling cranky after springing forward? The importance of a good night's sleep ranks right up there with a nutritious diet and getting exercise.

Why are my children (and me) so crabby after "spring forward"?

We're crabby because our circadian rhythms are not meant to have abrupt shifts. And taking that hour from us really does send our bodies into chaos. So if you are somebody who experiences that, post-daylight saving time, you are not alone. This is something that was invented in the United States, daylight saving time, and we are working hard in the sleep community to have it eliminated.

Why does that one hour seem to have such an outsized impact?

There are multiple reasons for it, but one of the main ones is that the vast majority of people really do need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. And the average American gets 6½ hours of sleep. So we are already sleep deprived. It is statistically so much more, when we consider the percentage of our night that's supposed to be spent in slumber and how we already are operating on a reduced level — that hour is crucial. We actually see a jump in heart attacks following "spring forward." So this is a physiological issue that is something that can no longer be ignored.

Do you have any tips for minimizing the impact of springing forward?

Go to bed earlier. A lot of people don't realize that the only time that we can control how we sleep is the onset. So if you are thinking, "I'll just sleep in," don't think that, because if you do wake up and are unable to reinitiate sleep, then there's nothing you can do.

What's more important, quantity or quality of sleep?

Both are equally important, because the quantity will impact the quality. Now, when we sleep each night we go into different stages and cycles of sleep. There are four different stages of sleep and we have five cycles throughout the night. As our night progresses, we work our way into different stages.

What happens when?

We have a lot of stage three up front, that deep restful stage of sleep in the beginning of the night and not a lot of REM. And then transversely, at the end of the night/beginning of the morning, that's when the majority of our REM sleep is consolidated. If we short our sleep, then we don't get all of that REM, which is considered the cellular restorative stage of sleep. This is how our bodies heal from being awake every day. So cutting that off is really, really bad for how we're going to feel the next day. If we go to bed really, really late and we start cycling at the times that we aren't meant to, we have different secretions of hormones at the wrong times and it all can send our body in a tailspin of quality of sleep.

What happens if you don't get enough or good enough sleep?

So many things! Immediately, our cognitive abilities will start to decline — memory, judgment, perception, motivation — as will all aspects of our health, including our immune systems. That is one of the first things that happens when we become sleep deprived, is that our immune systems become compromised. This is why, when we are operating on low sleep, it's so easy for us to get sick.

Why do we dream?

Dreams are fascinating because in the medical community of sleep, we do know that they are necessary — they are required for neurological function. There are still so many theories as to why. Dreams do help us process. They do help us in a lot of ways that we are not even aware of yet. We do know we have to do it. But there's still a lot of research that is happening now as to the hows and the whys of it all.

Why do we snore and when could it signify a serious health issue?

Snoring, depending on age, does indicate an issue. There are tissues in our airways from our nasal passages all the way down to our throat that will either relax or collapse, vibrating throughout the night and causing that snoring noise. There is such a thing that's called simple snoring, and that is just those vibrations that are making that sound. It may be disruptive to yourself or bed partner, but it is not causing any physiological harm or damage.

Now, if we do have snoring that is associated with sleep apnea, which is when you stop breathing at night, that is when we do want to take a look and have treatment considered.

The key point to consider getting checked out or treated is if you are constantly fatigued. That is a number one symptom of untreated sleep apnea. Simple snoring, most people will wake up feeling still refreshed. Sleep apnea is very, very tiring.

What about spring break and vacations, when we're off usual schedules?

If we're going on vacation, we really do want to take that time to enjoy ourselves, and if our schedules get off, that is just fine. All we have to do is be aware of it, so that we can try to get back on.

Sarah Moe is a Twin Cities sleep educator and the founder of Sleep Health Specialists,