Is Springing Forward Worth It?

It’s that time of year again. That’s right, it’s time to spring forward by an hour. While it’s nice to gain more sunlight in the evening, did you know this time change affects your body and productivity at work?

Related: Sweet Dreams Turn Into Nightmares

Your body’s internal clock
Till Roenneberg, a German chronobiologist, stated that our internal body clock never really adjusts to the "extra" hour of sunlight at the end of the day during daylight saving time (DST). This means, our internal body clocks may be a little off. Some of the other effects of DST include:

  • Decrease in productivity at work
  • Decrease in quality of life
  • Increase your chance of getting sick
  • Increase in tiredness

Data from the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also shows the Monday following DST has an increase in the number and severity of work-related accidents. According to a 2009 study, workplace accidents and injuries increase by nearly 6%, and nearly 68% more workdays are lost as a result of injuries following the change to DST.

You are feeling sleepy…at work
 A 2012 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology noticed that daylight saving time decreased productivity at work. This is because people lose an hour of sleep, leaving them tired. Everyone has gone to work tired, and it’s hard to concentrate on the tasks at hand. This DST effect can lead to employees wasting more time on social media or personal business at work. This is known as "cyberloafing," according to researchers cited by Mother Nature Network.

Road safety after DST
Along with effects on your body and productivity at work, daylight saving time also affects traffic accidents.  Traffic accidents rise by about 8% on the Monday following DST. Unfortunately, fatal alcohol-related accidents also increase for the first week after setting our clocks forward by an hour.

Related: Beware: Drowsy Driving Can be Just as Fatal as Drunk Driving

A 2007 study by two researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that daylight saving time has a significant impact on the number of pedestrians killed by vehicles. This study saw an increase in pedestrian accidents after the fall daylight saving time change. Pedestrians who walked during rush hour for the first few weeks were more than three times as likely to be fatally struck by cars than before the change. Time of day and daylight are key factors in the findings. There were fewer pedestrian accidents around noon, while more accidents happened around 6 p.m. This is because in the fall, it gets darker around 5-6 p.m., and this makes pedestrians harder to see.

Safety tips
Do you need some help adjusting to the new time change? Here are a few tips to make the change easier and keep you safe on the roads:

  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine after lunch – We need to get our bodies used to going to bed and waking up at a slightly different time. One way we can help do this is by reducing the amount of caffeine we intake after lunch. It’s no secret that caffeine keeps you up, so by reducing or eliminating it after a certain time, it will help you fall asleep faster.  
  • Make sure to get enough sleep before you drive – You want to always get a good night’s sleep, but this is especially important during daylight saving time. You want to be alert at all times and never drive while overtired. It’s scary how easy it is to slip from drowsy to asleep when you’re driving. This is very dangerous.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings – Not everyone has trouble adjusting to the time change. However, it’s important to remember that just because you’re awake and focused, doesn’t mean that everyone around you is awake and focused. Always be on the lookout for cars swaying between lanes or sudden stops.

Even though we “lose” an hour, it’s nice to look forward to warmer weather, and hopefully, no more snow!

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