Do you ever notice that you feel energized and drowsy around the same times every day? That’s your circadian rhythm, or your internal clock, at work. The most typical drowsy periods for adults are between 2am to 4am and 1pm to 3pm. If your sleep cycle is off, you will feel those swings between alertness and drowsiness even more intensely. Working night shifts, jet lag and daylight saving time can completely throw off that well-established internal clock, and it can take up to a week to adjust.
Today is the second Sunday of March, so you’re waking up this morning with one less hour of precious weekend sleep and relaxation, unless you live in Hawaii or Arizona (states that ditched the switch). All of the other 48 states will see a shift toward more evening daylight and less morning light until we “fall back” on the first Sunday in November.
What does this mean for drivers?
Most PSA billboards promoting driver safety target drunk driving (drive sober or get pulled over), distracted driving (get over your selfie, send it later) and wearing a seatbelt (click it or ticket). But drowsy driving is a majorly overlooked danger to road safety. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 1 in 5 deadly crashes involve driver fatigue. Sleep deprivation can have similar effects on your body as drinking alcohol, so drowsy driving can be incredibly dangerous.
Shockingly enough, on the Monday after springing ahead, the Fatal Accident Reporting System found a 17 percent increase in traffic fatalities and hospitals reported a 24% spike in heart-attack visits across the US. This data suggests that the brain and heart are highly sensitive to even the slightest changes to sleep schedules.
With time change, the disruption in circadian rhythms leaves too small of a window for people to adapt. To stay safe, the answer is simple – get plenty of sleep and be extra cautious of fatigued drivers over the next few days as people adjust. Pay special attention to trucks, since drivers are working non-traditional hours and may not have the weekend to catch up on sleep.
Team Openbay promotes driver safety, delivering you plenty of tips and tricks to get from point A to B with peace-of-mind. Check out these other helpful resources:
Driving in the Rain: How to Stay Safe
5 Tips For Being a Great Designated Driver
Teen Drivers: Help Keep them Safe with Monitoring Devices and Apps
9 Ways to Better Protect Your Kids from Car Accidents