Daylight savings time strips drivers of one hour of sleep, causing a surprising and costly result.
One hour of sleep may not seem like a tremendous amount, but as the majority of the country grumbled over having to “spring forward” with daylight savings time, health care costs saw a notable, short term spike that will only repeat itself at the same time next year.
Many studies continue to show that even one hour of sleep can have detrimental effects.
At the same time that the majority of people do like daylight savings time, it is the increase in the amount of sunlight that we see every day that we are celebrating, not the fact that our alarm clocks are suddenly going off an hour earlier. The effect that this time change has on our overall health, performance, and wellbeing is typically shrugged off as being quite minimal. However, research is starting to tell us otherwise, especially in terms of the health care costs, particularly from traffic accidents caused by distracted driving and slow reaction times.
Among the studies that have been conducted, health care costs rise from even one hour of widespread sleep deprivation.
Sleep specialist Yvonne Harrison, from Liverpool John Moores University explained that it isn’t just a matter of a single hour of sleep on one day. She stated that “The start of daylight saving time in the spring is thought to lead to the relatively inconsequential loss of one hour of sleep on the night of the transition, but data suggest … a cumulative effect of sleep loss, at least across the following week, perhaps longer.”
It is a similar concept to that of jet lag, in that the body must adjust to a new time rhythm, which simply doesn’t happen right away. While jet lag occurs only among travelers who head from one time zone to another, the time change from daylight savings occurs across an entire population, meaning that everybody is suffering from the sleep deprivation effects all at once.
This loss in the quality and quantity of sleep over a population for a period of several days or longer increases the risk of auto collisions, slips and falls, and other types of accidents. During this time, trips to the emergency room and insurance claims rise, as do the health care costs from these visits to doctors and hospitals.
It’s best to take it easy, slow down, and not try to overtax your energy levels during this first week following the time change. This will help to keep you – and the drivers around you – far safer.