As Daylight Savings Time comes to an end and our wall clock “falls back”, we gain an addtitional hour for the day, but how does that one hour effect the body clock of a shift worker? Sleep in general, is one of the most common laments of the shift worker. The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics offers in a 2013 survey that Americans average over 8 hours of sleep per day. However, a 2012 Center for Disease Control Report states that shift workers receive less than 6 hours of sleep for every 24 hour period! This condition is known as “Short Sleep“, and suffering from short sleep is considered to be one of the most dangerous problems for shift workers.
A 1996 New England Journal of Medicine study found that there is a direct correlation to automobile accidents on the Monday after the
“Spring Forward” shift to Daylight Saving Time versus the “Fall Back”, hour. Also, a 2012 study of Swedish Heart Attack victims showed a combination of short sleep and Daylight Savings Time (loss of an hour) were considered as factors for elevated cardiac arrests up to one week following the time switch.
So what’s a shift worker to do with an hour gained? Some people may decide to use it with an activity with family or friends. Perhaps use the extra hour with a bicycle ride or an invigorating run. Not me, I’ll use mine selfishly. My sleep bank is so overdrawn, that I’m going to stay right in bed and maybe brunch will be brought to me? It’s a free hour to deposit right into my sleep bank. When the world clock gives me one hour, I must be judicious with it’s use, because in the spring when the world takes it’s hour back, there is usually a stiff penalty from my sleep bank.
I’ll consider it a mental health hour. Yes, even if I have to do it myself, I”m going to take it easy. Although it’s one hour, I’m going to stay in bed as long as it is possible. Perhaps it will be a sunny and chilly, so I’ll take a nap outside in my fathers day hammock? Hopefully it will be a cold, and rainy day, where I don’t have to worry about the leaves. I won’t have to worry about the gutters getting cleaned. I won’t have to worry about the sun waking me. John Lennon said, “Time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted”. Imagine, what will you do with your hour?