This March 14, 2021, marks an annual occurrence that many have come to dread: The spring switch in the clocks called “Daylight Saving.”
While most people recognize that they’re about to lose an hour’s worth of sleep when all the clocks are bumped ahead, few may realize that they’re also endangering their health — or even their lives.
Can one lost hour of sleep really be that bad?
Basically, yes, a single hour of sleep deprivation is enough to create all kinds of havoc on the human body. The Monday following each spring switch in the time sees a 24% increase in the number of heart attacks that occur compared to all other Mondays in the year. Even more startling: Heart attack rates drop by 21% the Tuesday after the fall time switch, when people gain an hour of sleep.
But that’s not all that happens around Daylight Savings Time. Fatal car wrecks spike about 6% during the entire week after the switch. Theories are mixed as to why, but researchers have some ideas, especially once they noted that the spike in fatal accidents dramatically increased after 2007. That’s when the spring time change was moved from April to early March.
The net effect of the change is that people end up simultaneously suffering from disruptions in their sleep pattern and drowsiness while driving — plus, they’re forced to head out the door while it’s still dark on the roads for a bit. Driving while fatigued and driving in the dark both increase the risk of a catastrophic car wreck.
What can you do to protect yourself on the road?
The best you can do is be proactive. Turn in early before the switch and try to get some extra sleep yourself. Make sure that you have your headlights on when you leave your driveway. Buckle up and keep a wary eye out for other drivers who may be trying to drive while only half-awake.
If you are involved in a serious car accident, talk to an attorney about your options for recovery. That’s the best way to protect your interests against the insurance company.