Springing Forward Hurts More than Falling Back

November 3, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - American workers may have a new reason to prefer setting the clocks back to end daylight savings time over setting the clocks forward to begin it.

The switch to daylight saving time in the spring (“spring forward”) leads to both higher numbers of workplace injuries and more severe workplace injuries, according to a new paper in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the New York Times reports.

Christopher M. Barnes and David T. Wagner at Michigan State University looked at nationwide sleep habits in the government’s American Time Use Survey (see How Do You Spend Your Time? ), alongside a database of mining injuries for 1983 to 2006, and found that on the Monday after the shift forward into daylight saving time, employees had 5.7% more workplace injuries than they had on the typical workday. Employees also lost 67.6% more workdays because of injuries than on non-time-change days, indicating the injuries incurred right after the time switch were more serious.

On the other hand, there is no significant change in either the number or severity of injuries on the Monday following the “fall back” time shift.

According to the Times, the authors attribute the increase in injuries’ number and severity to a sleep-deprived labor force: On average, employees sleep 40 minutes less on the night following the “spring forward” change to daylight saving time than they do on regular (non-time-shift) nights, the authors write. They also note that individuals have trouble falling asleep earlier to make up for the lost hour.

The research paper is here .