As we navigate the shorter days of daylight saving time, it becomes increasingly crucial to understand and prepare for the potential health and safety implications.
In recognition of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, let’s explore the vital intersection of these seasonal changes with our well-being.
We’ll delve into understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder, its impact on our sleep patterns, and its potential risks.
All to equip you with the knowledge and practical tips to stay safe, alert, and mentally healthy during this season.
Now and then, we all find ourselves having to push past the limits of our body’s natural need for sleep. Maybe it’s because we had to work late or because we couldn’t hit pause on that show we were watching.
Whatever the reason, the consequences can be severe if we don’t care for ourselves, especially while performing our daily tasks.
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week
From November 5th through 11th, the National Sleep Foundation promotes Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to emphasize the importance of sufficient sleep before getting behind the wheel.
Their mission is to ensure individuals receive adequate rest and reduce the instances of sleep-deprived drivers on the road, encouraging operators to drive when awake, alert, and refreshed to avoid possible accidents.
Unfortunately, drowsy driving happens more often than we think, and it can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
According to a 2017 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving was a contributing factor to an estimated:
- 100,000 traffic crashes
- 800 fatalities
- 50,000 injuries
Drivers who have been awake for 20 hours are impaired on a level equal to 0.08% blood alcohol content, the current legal limit in most U.S. states.
This year’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week comes with an added challenge: the end of Daylight-Saving Time.
When we set our clocks back by an hour, we lose an hour of daylight in the evening, making it darker earlier, which can lead to feelings of tiredness.
Adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep every night. However, we sometimes don’t get the sleep we need, intentionally or unintentionally.
In these cases, it’s important to take breaks whether you are operating a vehicle or heavy machinery or having difficulties performing your daily tasks until you feel alert again.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Another issue that arises with the end of daylight saving time is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that occurs during the winter months when there is less sunlight.
It’s estimated that SAD affects about 6% of the US population, with symptoms that can include fatigue, oversleeping, and difficulty concentrating.
These symptoms can make it difficult for individuals to focus and be alert. Employers must be aware of these risks and provide employees with the resources and support necessary to cope with them.
Tips for Combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Light Therapy: Exposure to bright light, particularly in the morning hours, has been shown to positively impact mood. Consider using a light therapy box, which emits a bright light mimicking natural outdoor light.
- Vitamin D: This essential vitamin, often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” may have a mood-enhancing effect. Consult with a healthcare professional to understand the potential benefits and appropriate dosage.
- Maintain physical activity: Regular exercise can increase the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural mood lifters.
- Stay social: Maintaining social contact can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation, both of which can exacerbate SAD.
- Therapeutic Support: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) designed specifically for SAD has proven effective. This therapy can help you manage stress and tackle negative thought patterns.
It’s vital to reach out to healthcare professionals if you’re dealing with persistent feelings of depression or anxiety.
Employers can take steps to help prevent the added challenges of this season. They can educate employees about the dangers of being drowsy and less alert on the job and give them practical tips to avoid it.
Encouraging employees to take breaks when they’re tired is essential. Additionally, providing flexible work schedules or remote work options when applicable can help employees adjust to the time change and reduce risks.
As we enter the season of shorter days and darker nights, take the time to educate yourself and your employees about these risks and how to prevent them.
Getting enough sleep and taking care of yourself this season isn’t just a good idea – it’s a necessary step towards keeping yourself and others safe.
Axiom Medical stands as a trusted ally for employers. Our expertise in occupational health and employee wellness allows us to provide comprehensive solutions tailored to your unique needs.
We offer preventative strategies and individualized support for your employees, fostering a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce.
Don’t let the coming season hijack your team’s potential. Partner with Axiom Medical today and transform your approach to employee health and wellness.
Charli Pedersen works for Axiom Medical as their Content Marketing Specialist. She has her bachelor’s degree in English, Professional and Technical Writing and previous experience with creating content for businesses and non-profit organizations.