In most parts of the country, workers in positions and industries who already have a higher risk of being drowsy may be even more tired than usual on Monday, thanks to losing an hour of sleep due to daylight saving time.
According to a new National Safety Council (NSC) report, Tired at Work: How fatigue affects our bodies, shift workers, medical staff, emergency responders, military personnel, any worker over age 40, and transportation professionals – especially those who work rotating or night shifts – always are at increased risk for circadian misalignment. This occurs when we force ourselves to stay awake at hours when our bodies believe we should be sleeping. Hence, losing an hour of sleep may hurt this group of workers most.
Tired at Work is released just as daylight saving time begins and most Americans lose one hour of sleep. Research shows that fatal car crashes – already more likely if we are tired – increase on the Monday following the time change.¹
“Mondays are always tough, but this one could be deadly,” said Emily Whitcomb, senior program manager of the fatigue initiative at the National Safety Council. “We encourage employers to educate employees about the importance of sleep, and this is the perfect time of the year to implement a sleep health program. When it comes down to it, we are not at our best when we are tired.”
An NSC probability-based survey released last July found 43 percent of Americans say they do not get enough sleep to mitigate critical risks that can jeopardize safety at work and on the roads, including the ability to think clearly, make informed decisions, and be productive.
On Monday, employers should look for signs of fatigue among their entire workforce, but especially those workers who:
- Are shift workers
- Work long shifts
- Put in long weeks
- Do not get regular rest breaks
- Get less than 12 hours off between shifts
- Have sleep deficiencies
- Work high-risk hours, such as overnight or in the early morning
- Have physically or mentally demanding jobs
- Experience long commutes
Lack of sleep costs $410 billion annually in societal expenses², and fatigue has a different price tag for each employer. NSC developed the Fatigue Cost Calculator to help employers determine how much a drowsy workforce is impacting their bottom line and what can be done to solve the problem. NSC also developed the Fatigue Kit for employers interested in educating their workforce about fatigue and how to get better, healthier sleep.
¹ Allen, R. P., & Varughese, J. (2001, January). Fatal accidents following changes in daylight savings time: the American experience. Sleep Medicine, II(1), 31-36.
² Hafner, M., Stepanek, M., & Taylor, J. (2016). Why Sleep Matters – The economic costs of insufficient sleep: a cross-country comparative analysis. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.