During daylight saving time, Americans may find themselves involved in more than just changing their clocks by one hour. As reported by U.S. News, even minor time adjustments may result in sleep deprivation.
Because of the annual clock change, Americans could lose a half-hour of sleep each night. The disruption to a sleep schedule, although it may appear minor, could reduce an individual’s ability to maintain a stable attention span. It may also affect a worker’s ability to remain focused and respond quickly.
Changes in light exposure and desynchronization
A one-hour time modification could cause a change in an individual’s daily light exposure. The change could lead to a desynchronization between the darkness-light cycle and internal wake-sleep rhythms. Also referred to as the body’s circadian rhythms, disrupting them may affect normal routines and responsiveness to surroundings. An individual may develop a condition similar to jet lag known as shift work sleep disorder.
Symptoms of shift work sleep disorder may include fatigue, drowsiness and irritability, according to the Sleep Foundation. SWSD may also result in a lack of motivation, increased aggressiveness and an inability to perform regular work tasks. The Cleveland Clinic notes that SWSD commonly affects individuals who work rotating shifts or non-traditional hours. An estimated 20% of full-time employees follow rotating shift schedules.
Sleep deprivation and workplace injuries
EverydayHealth.com notes that moderate sleep deprivation could impair an individual’s motor skills. Impaired motor function leads to a greater risk of falling, tripping, and dropping things. Workers may also find themselves taking twice as long to react to their surroundings.
On-the-job injuries may require employees to apply for workers’ compensation. Even if caused by a lack of sleep, an injury occurring while performing a job-related task generally qualifies for workers’ comp. The awarded benefits cover the needed medical treatment, and may also provide paid time off for rest and recovery.