COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Spring is almost here, and people in the Chattahoochee Valley changed their clocks one hour forward for Daylight Saving Time. This switch means darker mornings and longer sunlight, but losing that one hour of sleep can affect our health and driving skills, according to experts.
Daylight Saving Time officially kicked off at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Students will have to go to school an hour earlier, and the sunlight will stay until after dinner time. However, Al Barber with Barber's Driving School said losing an hour of sleep means drivers will have to be extra careful on the road.
"Sleep deprivation causes more and more car crashes in America nowadays," Barber said. "Be aware that the same physiology change can occur when you are drinking. Blurred vision, swerving on the road, and losing your peripheral vision can occur when you are drowsy on the road."
According to the American Journal of Cardiology and other studies, losing an hour of sleep increases stress and provides less recovery time. People can feel tired and cranky for the first two weeks after Daylight Saving Time takes place. A recent study shows that drivers need to get plenty of rest to stay alert on the roads.
"General Motors conducted a sleep deprivation study, and tried to co-relate it with alcohol," Barber said. "The result was shocking. Sleep deprivation can be co-related to .08 alcohol concentrations when we have sleep deprivation of 5 hours per night and then 1 night without any sleep."
Barber recommends that people have their television, cell phones and computers off at night, since electronics keep people from sleeping. It is harder to get up an hour early when it is darker in the mornings, so experts said people should try to avoid longer evening light to help the body clock adjust and try to get as much morning sunlight as they can to feel awake throughout the day.
"Be careful in the mornings since it will be darker," Barber said. "Be aware of your surroundings, slow down and increase your following distance."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated tired and drowsy drivers induce more than 100,000 crashes a year. Al Barber recommends drivers to try to get seven to nine hours of sleep on Sunday to prepare for the time change.