60-Second Science

Workplace Injuries May Rise Right after Daylight Saving Time

The Monday after the change to daylight saving time is marked by an increase in work-related injuries, probably due to lack of z's. Steve Mirsky reports

Don’t forget to move your clocks forward this weekend. And then don’t forget to be more careful in the days after you adjust your clocks. Because a 2009 study found that the hour of lost sleep was related to increased job-related injuries. Probably because sleepy workers were less alert. The research was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. [Christopher M. Barnes and David T. Wagner, Changing to Daylight Saving Time Cuts Into Sleep and Increases Workplace Injuries]

Organizational behavioral psychologists Christopher Barnes and David Wagner analyzed reports filed with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health about injuries that took place in mines. The study looked at all reports between 1983 and 2006.  And they found that compared with other days, more injuries happened on the Monday after Daylight Saving Time went into effect. And the injuries were more severe.

Survey data found that people sleep on average 40 minutes less on the Sunday night right after the time change.

The data also revealed that on Mondays after the switch to Standard Time—when we gain an hour of sleep—there’s no significant differences in sleep or injuries. So enjoy that extra hour of sunlight in the evening. Carefully.

—Steve Mirsky

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

[Also see the blog piece by Bora Zivkovic on our Web site recommending an end to clock switching. It’s titled Let’s Not Spring Forward.]

[A version of this story was originally posted on March 12, 2010.]

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