Sunday is Daylight Saving Time, meaning clocks get set an hour ahead and one hour of sleep, lost.
That hour could make a difference and shake up sleep patterns affecting our everyday abilities. One of those abilities, driving.
“We now have people working multiple shifts, they’re going to get very sleepy when they’re driving probably,” Lonnie Stethers, a nurse practitioner of neurology at Guthrie Medical Group, said. “We have people that are trying to squeeze more into a day. We’re busy with kids and our lifestyle and people don’t get the rest that they should.”
You might see a driver alert and filled with energy like Shane Green. Even he admits to almost dozing off behind the wheel.
“I feel like if you’re focused and you think about what you’re doing, you got a clear mind,” Green said. “Maybe have your music on, tilt your head, do what you got to do. We all get tired but you got to stay focused.”
According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, roughly 4,800 accidents in the state are caused by drowsy driving. On the national level, 37 percent of motorists admit to driving while feeling drowsy. It’s more of an impact for commercial drivers.
“Should you suffer an accident with a tractor trailer, you’re probably going to do more damage if you strike somebody else on the highway,” Stethers said. “If they should fall asleep and drive off the highway, there’s a big truck that they’re in that could potentially be fatal.”
Stethers says this happens because of our body’s circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock.
“With the time change, it gets readjusted by an hour and eventually your body will come back into sync” Stethers said. “Then you develop a new circadian rhythm of an hour later or an hour earlier, whichever way you change the time.”
So just what are the best ways to combat drowsy driving?
“If you’re a drowsy driver you should pull over and take a nap ideally. Caffeine can certainly help you, we don’t recommend a lot of caffeine consumption,” Stethers said. “Blaring music, if it’s cold out, have the window open because we like to fall asleep when it’s warm and cozy.”
Or as another driver suggests: “”If you’re really tired, don’t drive,” Cassie Hastings, a motorist who attends Elmira College, said.
If you feel drowsy constantly, or have trouble sleeping before and after daylight saving time, it could be a sleep disorder. It’s best to consult a doctor in that case.