Setting our clocks to Daylight Savings Time (DSL) is simple, but adjusting our internal clocks is more difficult. In fact, several studies have shown that “springing forward” causes an increases the number of traffic accidents.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia analyzed 20 years of fatal car crash data from the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The study showed that sleep deprivation is most likely the cause of a 17 percent increase in vehicle accidents on the Monday following the time change. Other studies have found less extreme but still real traffic effects from the adjustment. A 2014 University of Colorado study found daylight saving time “increases fatal crash risk by 5.4–7.6 percent.” The study determined it was sleep deprivation, rather than a change in ambient light that drove the increase. “Many people just don’t get a good night’s sleep the first night of daylight saving time and it takes about a week to get acclimated,” said Sam Schwartz, a former New York City transportation commissioner.
Other studies have shown an increase in workplace injuries and heart attacks in the days after we spring forward. One of the most striking studies, conducted in 2014 by Colorado researchers, found an increase of heart attacks on the Monday after DST. The results indicate that the loss of an hour of sleep creates stress that affects those people more prone to get heart attacks – smokers, those with high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, family history of heart attack.
Researchers reported in the Journal of Applied Psychology that on average mine workers reported to work with 40 minutes less sleep and were injured in 5.7 percent more workplace accidents in the week after the spring time change. A Michigan State University study analyzed 20 years of data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration to determine that three to four more miners than average sustained a work-related injury on the Monday following the start of DST. The result of the injuries ranged from 2,649 lost days of work resulting in a 68 percent increase over the hours lost from injuries on an average day.
These negative impacts of changing the clocks has some pushing for abolishing the time changes all together. But, it will not happen anytime soon, if at all. In the meantime, it is important to remember that good, quality sleep is a critical component of our health. Do not allow yourself to get chronically sleep-deprived, ever, which will make daylight savings time and other mild sleep shifts more manageable. It might save your life.
Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.