Insufficient sleep negatively affects an individual’s short-term memory, motor skills, risk management, moral judgment, and productivity. So imagine nearly an entire workforce operating at that level for a day — that’s the Monday after the switch to Daylight Saving Time, argues Christopher M. Barnes, assistant professor at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.
Barnes has dubbed this day “Sleepy Monday,” and the research he’s conducted has convinced him it’s a bad day for anyone in any industry due to the following reasons:
In a 2009 study Barnes and David T. Wagner took a look at mining industry data provided by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. From the years 1983 to 2006, they looked at 576,292 injuries. Barnes and Wagner found that there were 3.6 injuries more than average on Sleepy Monday, up 5.7%. And these injuries had a real impact on business, resulting in a 67.6% increase in days lost from the average injury.
When they looked at Bureau of Labour statistics from the years 2003-2006, Barnes and Wagner found that workers of all kinds sleep an average of 40 minutes less the night before Sleepy Monday. They determined this to be the reason for the rise in mining accidents and concluded that the results would be replicated to varying degrees in other manual labour occupations.
Barnes and Wagner, along with Vivien K. G. Lim and D. Lance Ferris, found in a 2012 study that office spaces suffer temporarily from Daylight Saving Time, as well.
Using data provided by Google Insights for Search and the US census, the researchers discovered that on Sleepy Monday, there was a 3.1% increase in Google searches for distracting websites (defined as social media, YouTube, and sports news) over the previous Monday, and a 6.4% increase in those same searches over the following Monday.
In a follow-up study, the researchers conducted a lab study that found that participants spent an average of three fewer minutes wasting time when confronted with a task per hour they slept the night before, compared to their tired fellow participants.
And finally, Barnes argues, people’s moral compasses are lowered on the Monday after the switch to Daylight Saving Time.
In a 2015 study, Barnes, Wagner, and Brian C. Gunia, Barnes looked at Google Trends analytics from the years 2008 to 2013 in the US for Sleepy Monday. They found that there was “a national dip in Web searches for moral topics [i.e. words related to the word “morality”] (but no other topics).”
This particular study was secondary in its nature, used to bolster a more thoroughly proven hypothesis that a sleep impaired person is more likely to make impulsive decisions without considering the ramifications.
Barnes tells us that if he were to take each of his teams’ conclusions and test them against the days following the first Monday of Daylight Saving Time, he expects there would be a “petering out” of industry-wide sleep deprivation over a few days until people’s circadian rhythms became normalized.
His bottom line is that managers of all kinds whether they’re in a construction zone or Wall Street, would benefit from an awareness of unavoidable sleep deprivation among their team as they adjust to Daylight Saving Time in order to save them from unnecessary mistakes.
“It’s less safe for blue collar workers and white collar workers will make worse decisions,” Barnes says.
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