It's "Sleepy Monday" – Be Careful Out There

CC BY 2.0. Raneko via Flickr

Even a full day later, a one-hour shift in the clock is hard to adjust to.

I barely got the TreeHugger newsletter out this morning; I looked at the clock, rolled over and went back to sleep. (Wot, you don't get the newsletter? Sign up here!) It said 5:30 but my body still said 4:30. I am not alone; Christopher Barnes of the University of Washington calls today "Sleepy Monday."

According to Oliver Staley in Quartz, Sleepy Monday is making you cranky, lazy and possibly dangerous. There are evidently more accidents, more people goofing off at work, more people watching YouTube and ESPN, and judgement is impaired. According to Barnes's study,

We also demonstrate that the shift to Daylight Saving Time (DST) results in a dramatic increase in cyberloafing behavior at the national level. We first tested the DST–cyberloafing relation through a national quasi-experiment, then directly tested the relation between sleep and cyberloafing in a closely controlled laboratory setting.

Cyberloafing sounds like a dated term, and in fact the study was done in in 2012, when it found that searches for terms like “ESPN,” “videos,” and “YouTube,” were 3.1% higher than on the previous Monday, and 6.4% than on the following Monday. Now that everyone is always looking at their phones, it is probably worse.

According to another study, Spring forward at your own risk, published in the American Economic Journal, car crashes and fatalities increase significantly.

Daylight Saving Time (DST) impacts over 1.5 billion people, yet many of its impacts on practicing populations remain uncertain. Exploiting the discrete nature of DST transitions and a 2007 policy change, I estimate the impact of DST on fatal automobile crashes. My results imply that from 2002–2011 the transition into DST caused over 30 deaths at a social cost of $275 million annually. Employing four tests to decompose the aggregate effect into an ambient light or sleep mechanism, I find that shifting ambient light only reallocates fatalities within a day, while sleep deprivation caused by the spring transition increases risk.

Perhaps it is time to put the time change to bed, decide what works best and just keep it going all year. It is the change that is literally killing us.

This story is updated from an earlier version published in 2017.