Mar 4, 2008

Time to set your clocks ahead (and lose an hour of sleep)

It's time once again, albeit earlier than usual, to set your clocks forward an hour. Yes, this Sunday night, March 9 in the wee hours of the morning, we'll be losing an hour -- even the folks in Indiana. While this seems like a minor inconvenience, there are actually real safety issues as our already sleep-deprived society loses another hour of sleep (because, let's face it, most people don't modify their schedule to lose a waking hour).

Studies have found accidents rates increase in the week immediately after the shift to standard time as we reset our circadian clocks. And, not coincidentally, accident rates decrease in the fall immediately after we when we gain an extra hour.

[As an aside, studies have found that the energy savings often touted as the
reason for shifting to daylight savings time, are nonexistent. In fact,
energy usage appears to have increased by roughly 4% this year in Indiana which
shifted to daylight savings for the first time. Maybe we can finally get
rid of this annoying and unsafe practice, although as I understand it, retailers
feel the extra daylight hours at the end of the day increase people's spending.]

Yesterday, USA Today ran an article on this very issue, Bodies don't 'spring ahead', that is worth taking a look at. Today's Wall Street Journal also ran a helpful article Learning to Live Like an Early Bird by Melinda Beck.

So remember to reset your clocks, and please be careful next week. Even if you plan appropriately for the lost sleep, the other folks on the road may not.

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