Football fans know that Any Given Sunday is a good Sunday, especially from Labor Day to February. Yet Sunday, November 3rd, is one of the more important Sundays of the year.
Why? It’s the date that sees most of us switch to daylight saving time as part of our “fall back, spring forward” routine each year. And this date really matters to all of us in transportation, as more and more of us are finding out.
It’s a reminder of the pros and cons of our semi-annual clock changes. Many of us Americans attribute the concept of daylight saving time to the one and only Benjamin Franklin. Credit generally goes to George Hudson of New Zealand and to Germany as the first country to adopt it (ironically in 1916, during the First World War). The United States, United Kingdom, Russia and Canada – each of them involved heavily in that First World War – were all on daylight saving time by 1918.
Those in favor of daylight saving time point to an extra hour of recreation for us and our families and friends each evening. They argue it’s safer for our kids. They also cite energy savings. Those against these twice-yearly clock changes argue that the energy saving benefits are unclear and point to safety issues, especially in industries such as transportation. They also suggest that productivity declines each time we shift the clocks, backward or forward.
Whether you love it or leave it, daylight saving time is a fact of life for most of us living and working in North America and Europe.
That’s why the more aware we are of the potential impacts of the change to daylight saving – and even more importantly, the shift away from it each spring – the safer we will all be on the roads. The bottom line is that the daylight saving time change, like any time zone shift, has impacts on our body clock. No one can deny that, no matter how little many of us feel the effects of the change. Changing the clocks has been known to be a source of physical, personal stress and health impacts, and highway crashes and accidents.
When we fall back, like we are in most parts of the United States this Sunday, November 3rd, we gain an hour. That’s easier on our bodies than losing an hour’s sleep. But it still throws our body clocks off and is worth being mindful about. That’s especially true for the truck drivers and shift workers that are so important to the transportation industry. Many of us feel the fatigue of the spring forward change right away. We are tired all day because, with everything else being equal, we’ve lost that hour of sleep. When it comes to spring time clock changes, some people plan to go to bed and wake up earlier. Some do so a few days ahead of the time shift so as to minimize its impact on our body clocks.
The fall back that we’re doing this weekend is not – according to most sleep experts – quite as impactful as the spring forward change. But what often happens is that people have a one-day delayed impact to having “carried around” that extra hour. And that can throw things off and cause insomnia for a few nights. Either way, the point is to be mindful about the time change.
Whatever you do, just be SAFE!