The power of a time change: plan now to ease the transition

The Ohio Safety Congress and Expo just happens to fall right before the switch to Daylight Savings Time (DST) this year. As we gather to raise awareness and knowledge of workplace safety, now is the perfect time to review the how the time change impacts us on the job.

The loss of just one hour of sleep effects workplaces more than you may have considered. In fact, many research institutions and universities have conducted studies in this area.

Interesting facts:

  • There is a 5.7-percent increase in workplace and occupational accidents and a 68-percent increase in the severity of those accidents on the Monday following DST change in March.
  • There is a 17-percent increase in fatal traffic crashes on the Monday following DST change in March.
  • There is a 5-percent increase in the heart attack rate in the first three weekdays following DST change in March.
  • However, there’s no significant increase in accidents or heart attacks during switch back to standard time in the fall. One-hour of additional sleep is a good thing.

Sleep deprivation is the most commonly cited cause for these statistics. DST results in an average decrease in sleep of 40 minutes which contributes to “sleep debt”.  Lack of sleep causes attention levels to drop. Loss of sleep disturbs sleep patterns and disrupts a person’s bio-rhythm.

Interesting note – Arizona and Hawaii do not participate in DST.

So while we will soon bask in the glow of more daylight and look forward to warmer weather that’s just around the corner, we should also prepare in advance of Sunday’s time change.

What can do to ease the transition to DST?

  • Begin eating dinner and going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier several days prior to the time change.
  • Increase exercise (particularly outdoor exercise) on Sunday morning following the start of DST. A brisk walk on Sunday morning will stimulate serotonin release in the brain.
  • Increase exposure to natural sunlight for at least one to two hours. High dose artificial lighting can help too but is not as effective as natural sunlight.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the days just prior and after DST change. These can contribute to disruption in sleep patterns.

A positive takeaway to the start of DST is the reminder to check our homes for safety concerns such as replacing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, checking emergency supply kits to ensure they’re properly stocked, and surveying your home for hazardous materials that can be properly disposed of.


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