Feeling sleepy? The Monday following the start of Daylight Savings Time always proves to be a sleepy time for workers in the United States, and according to the 2003 Sleep in America poll, released in January by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), that lost hour is coming off the already-lacking sleep schedules of America’s workers.
The poll estimates that over 40 percent of Americans ages 18 to 54 take in fewer than seven hours of sleep each weeknight, with 16 percent overall surviving on less than six hours of sleep. Previous studies by the organization have suggested that a lack of nighttime sleep could cause on-the-job sleepiness as well as anger and stress.
Daylight Savings Time, when most of North America moves its clocks ahead by one hour to extend the hours of daylight into the evening, has been linked to safety problems. A study in the early 1990s showed that traffic accidents rose in Canada by eight percent on the Monday following the start of Daylight Savings Time; that increase was linked by the researchers to the missing hour of sleep caused by the time change.
Other studies have linked sleep-deprived fatigue to an increased likelihood for accidents in industrial settings, as well as decreased productivity, an increased likelihood for risky behavior and an increased risk of auto accidents.
The NSF recommends getting a few extra hours of sleep both immediately before and just after the on-set of Daylight Savings Time. The foundation offers the following suggestions for getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis:
- Determine the amount of sleep needed each night to be fully alert, and not sleepy, the next day (minimum sleep requirement).
- Get at least the minimum sleep requirement each night, if not more. Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking at the same time each day, even on weekends.
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon or evening.
- Avoid nicotine and alcohol before bedtime.
- Don’t eat or drink too much before bedtime.
- Engage in a relaxing bedtime routine such as taking a warm bath or soaking in a hot tub.
- Create a sleep-promoting environment that is cool, quiet, dark and comfortable.
And, if all else fails, Hawaii, Arizona, and the Eastern Time Zone portion of Indiana don’t recognize the switch to Daylight Savings Time.
Source: National Sleep Foundation; standardtime.com