March 11 – the Monday after the switch to daylight-saving time – may be an unexpectedly dangerous day on the road. That's because 43% of Americans qualify as sleep deprived (getting fewer than seven hours of sleep a night). The situation is made worse by the annual spring clock change when we "lose" an hour of sleep.
That's an eye-opener when you consider that, according to the National Sleep Foundation, being awake for 18 hours produces driving impairment equal to having a blood alcohol level of .05 (.08 is legally drunk)!
Two-thirds of drowsy driving crashes involve people under age 30, with men outnumbering women five-to-one. It's often the overachievers – straight-A students, athletes, volunteers, and all-around go-getters – who are the most affected. Other groups at high risk include night-shift workers, long-haul truckers, people with untreated sleep disorders and those with chronic insomnia.
You might be sleep deprived if you:
- must be awakened for school or work (usually with difficulty) and often hit the snooze button,
- sleep two or more hours later on weekends than on work or school nights,
- need caffeine to wake up (or you drink two or more caffeinated beverages during the day) or
- nap more than 45 minutes regularly.
To get your healthy Zzz's, set a regular bedtime and stick to it, even on the weekends; turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed; skip the caffeine after lunch and give yourself permission to say "No" to new commitments.
Could this be your last clock change? Well, maybe one of the last ones.
Legislation is pending in Washington and Oregon to permanently switch to daylight-saving time. (California voters passed a similar proposition in the midterm election, but it still needs an OK from the state's Legislature and eventually, federal approval).
In a PEMCO Poll last year, two-thirds of participants said they'd like to keep clocks on the same time all year around. Check out the Poll
along with some tips to get you through the upcoming switch.