November 5 is right around the corner. That means it’ll be time to turn your clocks back an hour to observe the end of daylight saving time (DST). Daylight saving time was created to maximize the daylight hours during the spring and summer months, but switching back and forth can take its toll on the human body.
That may be why the U.S. Senate introduced the Sunshine Protection Act to make DST permanent nationwide. Although it stalled in the House in 2022, future votes could finally bring change to the U.S. Until then, it’s important to understand the hidden dangers of adjusting the clock twice each year.
Here’s what entrepreneurs should know about the dangers of the time change.
The health risks of disrupted sleep
A growing body of research highlights the health risks of disrupted sleep. Your body has an internal clock known as its circadian rhythm. This clock regulates your sleeping patterns, metabolism and even your body temperature. The time change disrupts that clock, which can result in the following:
The most immediate effect is sleep deprivation. It takes time for your body to adjust to your new bedtime. Although your body will adjust in two weeks or less, in the meantime, you might experience fatigue or difficulty focusing.
Technically, the time change doesn’t cause cardiac issues, but the switch to/from DST has been correlated with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. If you already have cardiac issues, the time change can make them worse.
Your circadian rhythm also regulates your metabolism. Disruption can result in a slower metabolism, which may also lead to weight gain. That’s right — resetting the clock can have a measurable impact on your waistline.
Increased evening car accidents
The time change takes its toll on the human body. It can also have an impact on the country’s freeways.
Daylight saving time and car accidents
This increase is partly due to the reduced visibility in the evening hours. The fall also brings a change in animal behavior, which means that drivers may encounter more deer on the roads. Additionally, the shift from DST increases the number of sleep-deprived drivers on America’s roadways. Combine these factors and you have the perfect conditions for more accidents.
Tips for your commute after DST ends
Entrepreneurs don’t always get to choose what time of day they will be on the road. Here are a few ways to adjust your driving habits to stay safe following the time change:
- Adjust your sleep schedule to prevent fatigue
- Make sure your headlights/taillights are working
- Don’t work late and become overtired
- Stay alert and watch out for potential dangers
- Join a carpool to share the burden of driving
If you bike to and from work, make sure your clothing features plenty of reflectors to boost your visibility.
The challenge of adjusting sleep schedules
Adjusting to the time change is basically like going through a minor form of jet lag twice a year. Eventually, your body will adjust, but in the meantime, you might face some disruptions in your sleep schedule — which will also impact your productivity.
How long does it take to adjust your sleep schedule to the time change? According to the Sleep Foundation, it can take anywhere from a few days to a week. It can be especially hard if your schedule has you getting up before dawn or facing longer nighttime hours after a long day.
The time change and productivity
Sleep disruptions have a direct impact on your productivity. Research shows that the Monday after the time change, Google searches for music and videos spike, suggesting that people are spending less time actually working.
How to adjust your sleep schedule
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to adapt quickly to the time change. Here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep once daylight saving time ends:
- Gradually adjust your sleep schedule before DST ends
- Stick to the same sleep routine
- Avoid screens an hour before bedtime
- Exercise regularly to maximize light exposure
- Avoid naps
Remember, your body will adjust. But these tips can streamline the transition so you can keep your head in the game without your eyes getting heavy.
Mental health implications of daylight saving time
Don’t neglect your mental health during the time change. If you already struggle with anxiety and depression, your symptoms may worsen when the daylight hours shorten. You may also experience seasonal affective disorder, which results in mood changes or symptoms of depression during the winter months.
Entrepreneurs and mental health
Entrepreneurs face unique risk factors and challenges. The time change occurs roughly at the start of the holiday shopping/shipping season, which means that your stress may be at a high. That’s why it’s important to practice self-care before and after the time change. Try to do the following:
- Get regular exercise
- Stick to your sleep routine
- Stay connected with friends and family
- Prioritize your days off
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Seek professional help when you’re overwhelmed
When you get busy, it’s tempting to work through your day off or to binge on fast food. But maintaining healthy habits will be better for your body and mind.
The impact on business operations
Does the time change impact your business operations? Absolutely. The transition to/from DST can impact the way you interact with customers and other businesses.
When people aren’t sleeping, people aren’t happy. Sleep disruptions don’t just make you tired; they can make you irritable. That can add volatility to your customer interactions. Customer complaints can quickly develop into full-blown confrontations, and your customer service team might be a bit short on patience themselves.
The time change can make it difficult to schedule meetings with business partners and suppliers in different time zones. Some states (Arizona and Hawaii) don’t observe daylight saving time at all. International suppliers may be confused about the time change, making it hard to pursue collaboration.
How to maintain efficiency
Business leaders can ensure efficiency throughout the time change by:
- Keeping employees and business partners informed about scheduling changes
- Educating customer service reps about the impact of DST on psychology
- Planning for the time change in advance
- Maintaining your own physical/mental health throughout the change
The good news is that DST comes and goes every year. Even new entrepreneurs can quickly learn the best practices to stay resilient during the transition.
Be proactive, not reactive
The transition from daylight saving time can take you by surprise. And if it does, you can experience the adverse health and occupational effects detailed above. But as an entrepreneur, you know the importance of being proactive. You’re in control of your mental and physical health, just as you’re in control of what happens in your business.
Taking care of yourself is your first priority. Practice self-care, and don’t let stress knock you off your routine. By adapting your routine to the disruption of the time change, you can look forward to thriving both personally and professionally.