Spring forward! As daylight saving time approaches this weekend, most folks are excited for more daylight when we get home from work or school to enjoy the nice spring weather. However, when clocks move forward in the spring we lose an hour – one precious hour of sleep! This leaves many feeling “out of whack” or unable to adjust for a few days, or even weeks. One hour of lost sleep can surely make us more tired, but some might not realize what that means for their safety and the safety of others. Slight changes in sleep patterns and circadian rhythms can alter our alertness, and in some cases, increase the number of auto crashes.
There have been multiple research studies performed which show that there is a very small but very significant increase of deaths in motor vehicle collisions on the Monday after we spring forward. There’s also research which shows that the first six days following the change in time prove to be more dangerous on the road. People are still adjusting to the shift in time on the Monday after, and it’s been compared to the equivalent of suffering from jet lag. People are also adjusting to the darker morning commutes, and at the same time they are less alert due to sleep deprivation. Our driving skills aren’t the only thing in danger, as it’s also been reported there’s an increase in workplace incidences in the days after we spring forward.
The important lesson isn’t that driving on the Monday after “springing forward” is unusually dangerous, but rather that small decreases in our total amount of sleep can stress our bodies and cause incidents. What can you do to plan for Monday and the week following the time change? Go to bed early Saturday night, get enough sleep in the days before the clocks spring forward, and keep an eye out for fatigued drivers for the next few days.