Affected By the Time Change? You're Not Alone

The fall time change brings a sudden change in driving conditions in the late afternoon rush hour, from driving home from work during daylight hours to driving home in darkness, while the spring time change leads to more daylight in the evening, which may disturb some people's sleep, NIOSH Research Health Scientist Claire Caruso, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, explains in a NIOSH Science Blog post.

NIOSH shared some helpful information and advice from Claire Caruso, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, a research health scientist in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology, about coping with the "spring forward" adjustment to Daylight Saving Time. While a few studies have examined how the spring and fall time changes affect workers, many questions remain, including the best strategies to cope with them, she writes in a NIOSH Science Blog post dated March 9.

It can take about one week for a person's body to adjust the new times for sleeping, eating, and activity, Caruso explains. Until the person has adjusted, he or she can have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up at the right time, which can lead to sleep deprivation, reduced performance, and a higher risk for mistakes, including vehicle crashes. Workers can experience somewhat higher risks to both their health and safety after the time changes (Harrison, 2013). A study by Kirchberger and colleagues (2015) reported men and persons with heart disease may be at higher risk for a heart attack during the week after the time changes in the spring and fall, Caruso notes.

While disruption to circadian rhythms and sleep are at work here, the fall time change brings a sudden change in driving conditions in the late afternoon rush hour, from driving home from work during daylight hours to driving home in darkness, she writes, adding that the spring time change leads to more daylight in the evening, which may disturb some people's sleep.

"To help reduce risks about one and a half weeks before the time changes in the Fall and Spring, employers can relay these points to help their workers," she writes, adding these and other recommendations:

  • Remind workers that several days after the time changes are associated with somewhat higher health and safety risks due to disturbances to circadian rhythms and sleep.
  • It can take one week for the body to adjust sleep times and circadian rhythms to the time change, so consider reducing demanding physical and mental tasks as much as possible that week.
  • Remind workers to be especially vigilant while driving, at work, and at home to protect themselves, because others around them may be sleepier and at risk for making an error that can cause a vehicle crash or other type of accident.
  • One way to help the body adjust is to gradually change the times for sleep, eating, and activity. For the spring time change, starting about three days before, one can gradually move up the timing of waking and bedtime, meals, exercise, and exposure to light earlier by 15-20 minutes each day until these are in line with the new time. About one hour before bedtime, keep the lights dim and avoid electronic lit screens on computers, tablets, etc.. For the fall time change, starting about three days before, gradually move the timing of wakening and bedtime, meals, exercise, and exposure to light later by 15-20 minutes each day until these are in line with the new time.

People who sleep for seven hours or less per day tend to have more problems with the time changes (Harrison, 2013).

Caruso's post includes a link to an online training program, "NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours," and she explains that it has many suggestions for coping with various types of work schedules and improving sleep.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Incident investigation guide

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Levels of a Risk Matrix

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe
Bulwark FR Quiz

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - July August 2020

    July August 2020

    Featuring:

    • CONFINED SPACES
      Addressing Confined Spaces and Heat Stress Concerns
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      Why Daily Wear FR Garments Make Sense No Matter the Season
    • HAND PROTECTION
      The Magic of New Technology
    • CHEMICAL SAFETY
      Why Effective Chemical Safety Training is More Important Than Ever
    View This Issue