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Don’t Lose Sleep with Daylight Saving Time’s Arrival

In most of the United States and Canada, daylight saving time (DST) coincides with the beginning of construction’s busy season.

The extra daylight that comes with moving clocks ahead one hour, which this year occurs on March 8th, can help keep outdoor projects on schedule. However, the first Monday following the change is also a day of record numbers of workplace injuries and traffic accidents.

What makes this day so dangerous? Shortchanged sleep.

Workplace Injuries

According to a report published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the first Monday of DST finds workers, some of whom already seldom get the seven to eight hours of shut-eye needed to be at the top of their game, are even more sleep deprived than usual. The study, an examination of over half a million mining injuries suffered from 1983-2006, found that on the first workday of DST, most workers arrived at their jobs having slept about 40 minutes less than normal the night before. The study also found that the average Monday resulted in 63 workplace injuries, while the first Monday of DST time resulted in 66.6 injuries, an increase of 5.7 percent. These injuries also tended to be more severe, resulting in more work days lost.

Traffic Accidents

The first Monday of DST is also a day when getting to and from work is particularly hazardous. Studies from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the University of British Columbia link sleep loss the night before to the 17 percent increase in traffic accidents in the U.S. and the 8 percent increase in Canada that occur on this day.

You can reduce your risk for a DST-induced injury by resetting your internal body clock:

Five days before DST:

  • Every night, set your alarm clock another 15 minutes earlier.

On the Saturday before:

  • Around midday, get some vigorous exercise like riding your bike or going for a run.

On Sunday morning:

  • Get up at your regular time regardless of what time you went to bed.
  • Take a morning walk.
  • Spend an hour or more outside.

As always, good sleep habits are also essential. Regardless of whether or not you are preparing for DST:

  • Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends.
  • Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath, reading or listening to soothing music – begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep.
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow.
  • Reconsider sleeping arrangement for pets who sleep with you and who disrupt your sleep.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex (put your TV and computer elsewhere).
  • Finish eating at least two to three hours before your regular bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine at least eight hours before bedtime and alcohol at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Turn electronics off at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Quit smoking.

It is important that employers are aware of the increased risk for workplace injuries on the first Monday of daylight saving time. For more information on the link between a good night’s sleep and safety on the job, check out this Lifelines article on drowsy driving.

Not Everyone Springs Forward!

States and territories that currently do not observe daylight saving time in the United States include:

  • Arizona (except the Navajo Nation community)
  • Hawaii
  • American Samoa
  • Guam
  • Puerto Rico
  • The Virgin Islands

Areas that do not observe daylight saving time in Canada include:

  • Some areas of Québec
  • Most of Saskatchewan
  • Southampton Island

[Janet Lubman Rathner]

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