This year, daylight savings time begins on March 14, 2021, at 2 a.m. We “spring forward” and gain daylight but lose an hour of sleep. I’m sure as many of you have experienced in the past, this can lead to various side effects because our internal clock becomes out of sync. Each person is different and can have different reactions to the time change and the amount of adjustment time needed.
Sleep deprivation. The time change can impact the amount and type of sleep we get, which can affect hormone levels, immune systems and even the heart. Mood swings, appetite changes, cognitive ability, heart attacks and strokes are some of the side effects.
Your workers can be impacted for up to a week after changing the clock forward. Lack of sleep causes fatigue, and fatigue can impair an employee’s capacity to make clear decisions, decrease concentration and cause drowsiness and muscle aches. Combined with strenuous physical or mental work, fatigue can even lead to costly workplace incidents. Understanding the impact the time change can have on employees is a good first step.
Here are some tips for businesses to battle sleep deprivation after a time change:
- Adjust work processes to counter the darker mornings.
- Provide additional light for those performing tasks inside and outside to alleviate the potential hazards in under-lit areas.
- Postpone hazardous work for later in the week.
- Modify start times to allow those in dangerous positions to start later on the first few days after the time change and gradually return to normal schedules.
- Implement extra safety measures for the first few days until attention levels readjust.
There are also adjustments your employees can make to their daily routine that can help prevent or lessen the side effects. Possibly share these tips with your employees before the time change:
- Let there be light! Try to get light/sunlight exposure right away in the morning. Seeing the light first thing after waking up helps reset your internal clock.
- Days before the time change, go to bed earlier and wake up earlier than usual. This can help you prepare for losing the hour of sleep.
- Be consistent when you wake up. Get out of bed at the same time every day is the best way to improve your overall sleep performance.
- Easy on the coffee! Days before and after the time change, limit the amount of caffeine intake, especially after lunch. Do not over-caffeinate to help you stay awake, as this will impact your sleep.
- No napping. Napping during the day after the time change will make it harder to sleep at night.
- Turn off the TV, avoid electronic devices, relax in a hot bath, or wear earplugs and/or an eye mask. Think calming.
Ultimately, it is only one hour. A little extra effort can minimize the impact of daylight saving time and keep your business on track.
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