Staying alert when daylight saving time (DST) ends

Although pushing the clocks back for daylight savings time (DST) may have meant an extra hour of slumber, sleep experts from Northwestern University say that even a one-hour shift can disrupt sleep patterns.

"Sleep problems are widespread and on the rise, yet many people dismiss the issue and don’t realize the consequences that can result," said Hrayr Attarian, MD, a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial and associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "As people reset their clocks, they should also take this opportunity to reset their sleep habits in order to avoid possible health consequences."

Attarian stated that keeping a consistent sleep schedule even though we gain an extra hour can help you avoid being sleep deprived in the days following the switch.

With the end of DST comes darker, drowsier commutes home from work, which can pose added risks to the drive. According to Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD director of Northwestern Memorial’s Sleep Disorders Center, driving while tired can increase the amount of accidents on the road.

“There is a significant increase in the number of car accidents in the days following the end of Daylight Savings Time (DST), which many attribute to lack of alertness from insufficient sleep,” Zee stated.

It is important for motorists to always keep a first aid kit in their vehicle, as well as safety equipment such as reflective highway warning triangles and road flares to increase safety and visibility in the event of a breakdown or accident.

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