Studies Show Daylight Saving Time Causes Accident, Health Problem Increase

Monday, March 10th 2014, 6:54 pm
By: News 9

It was a rough start to the work week for many getting up earlier because of the time change.

A local sleep doctor said studies show Daylight Saving Time causes an increase of accidents and health problems all because of lack of sleep.

"Any of us can stay up an hour later, that's easy," said Dr. Jonathan Schwartz, medical director of the Integris Sleep Disorders Center. "But if you try to go to bed an hour early, it's very difficult, and that's why a number of people have problems falling asleep and staying asleep," 

"There are lots of things that our brains are required to do, and the less sleep you get, it makes it more difficult to do normal functions," said Dr. Schwartz. "So driving or operating machinery and things like that, there's increased instances of accidents."

Click Here To Learn More About Sleep Disorders And Dr. Schwartz

Schwartz said missing a couple hours of sleep can cause sleepiness equal to a blood alcohol level of about .05 and getting only four hours of sleep is equal to being legally intoxicated at a level of .095.

While the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said it doesn't see an unusual increase in accidents due to the time change, a study by the American Journal of Cardiology said during the first week of Daylight Saving Time, there is a spike in heart attacks because losing an hour of sleep can increase stress and provide less time to recover overnight.

Schwartz said a simple way to help wake in the morning is using a bright light, such as a blue light, where the blue wavelengths send a signal to your brain to get up.

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Schwartz said it could take several days for many to adjust to "springing forward" if they did not start a week earlier. He said now is the time to implement a gradual change in your sleep schedule

"Starting tonight, if you're a person who has problems with daylight saving time, do it gradually and try to move up everything by 15 to 20 minutes," he said.

"Move up your dinner schedule, your activities and the time you work out a little bit each day instead of doing a dramatic switch overnight."

Daylight Saving Time ends November 2.