There are two kinds of people in this world – morning people and definitely not morning people. This also typically relates with someone’s feelings towards Day Light Saving time. This could be seen as the loss of an hour of sleep or a dependable excuse to be late to work on Monday – well at least before our phones automatically updated the time change for us.
Unfortunately, we have learned that the mere disruption of sleep and lack of ‘late to work excuses’ are not the only things we need to worry about when we move our clocks forward this weekend. The disruption in sleep cycles isn’t as simple as being an inconvenience or causing us to pour an extra cup of coffee. Sleep is essential to our biochemical, physiological, and behavioral practices. According to an article by Healthline, sleep deprivation can cause depression, hallucinations, sickness, high blood pressure, weight gain, moodiness, cognitive dysfunction, impaired brain activity, and many other risky symptoms. How are we still allowed to drive cars with side effects like these after we get an hour taken away from our regular sleep cycle? The answer is, we probably shouldn’t be.
Recent studies have shown that there is an increase in traffic accidents for at least the first week after DST, with the highest spike in collisions being on the first Monday following the time change. Austin C. Smith states in his study “Spring Forward at your Own Risk: Daylight Savings Time and Fatal Vehicle Crashes” that motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of accidental deaths in the US (CDC, 2005-2010) with an average of 39,000 annual fatalities. He also notes that with such a large base level of fatalities normally, even a small change in fatal crash risks has a potential to be a large risk for increase deaths. Could sticking to our normal sleep cycle have a large impact on decreasing motor vehicle crashes?
DST was first introduced in 1918, and the Uniform Time Act was established by Congress in 1966. DST was originally put into place in an effort to conserve energy, although there is no clear evidence that this has been successful. Since then there have been many revisions to Daylight Saving Time as well as many efforts to ban it all together, putting everyone on a consistence cycle all year round.
Since we are not Hawaii or Arizona who don’t observe DST, here are some ways to help you not let the time change catch you off guard:
– Wake up and go to bed earlier than you normally do on Saturday before the time change
– Be active on Saturday so you sleep well Saturday night
– Let the natural sunlight shine in your room on Monday morning
– Don’t wait until you get to the office for your first cup of coffee
– Be extra aware when driving or doing demanding tasks since you know the risks