Daylight Saving Time, Your Health, and What Leaders Can Do

There are very few dates that make me silently moan inside. One of them is always the dreaded daylight saving time. It happens in about 70 countries around the world.

I notice that I’m more irritable, yawning all day, and just generally tired.

And then I think, hold on, Skip, it’s only one hour. You travel around the world and your body has practice adjusting to time zones. What is the big deal?

 

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” -Harvey Mackay

 

The answer is not entirely clear, but I can confidently say that a single hour change seems to disrupt my week.

And, ask any parent of young children how they feel about daylight saving time. Regardless of which way the clock moves, kids seem to wake up earlier and parents get less sleep.

Always looking at both sides, I should share that proponents of daylight saving time have long championed benefits such as:

  • More light in the evening
  • Lower crime rates
  • Less energy use

 

Against these arguments are many studies that show it isn’t all roses and rainbows:

  • Heart attack and stroke risk increases. (I have heard as much as 23% but most sources seem to say 8-10%.)
  • Traffic accidents increase.
  • Depression and suicide rates increase.
  • Bosses are irritable increasing the work misery index. (OK, I made that one up, but I’m rather sure it is true.)

 

“It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” -Steve Jobs

 

What to Do About It

There’s plenty you can do about it. For example:

  • Take a vacation day and ease into work.
  • Exercise early in the day.
  • Lower your caffeine and alcohol intake during the week.
  • Get outside and absorb some natural light.
  • Drive defensively and carefully.

 

What Leaders Can Do

Organizational leaders can do more. There are a variety of ways to help employees adjust to the time change.

One of them is so simple that I don’t know why I didn’t think of it and implement it previously. What is it?

Allow employees the flexibility to come in one hour later on the Monday after the change.

You could argue that it will cost money or productivity. To that I say, who is productive when they are exhausted? What is the benefit if one person does not have a cardiac issue? And don’t we all want to be happier and healthier?

And so, I’m taking my own advice and allowing our employees an extra hour on the day after daylight saving time. It doesn’t solve everything in a day, but perhaps it will help everyone adjust—with less stress.

 

Image credit: chuttersnap on Unsplash.

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