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Next month millions of people across Canada will see their clocks turn one hour ahead. And while the brighter evenings resulting from this time shift are generally welcomed by most, the extra hour of daylight can also come at a loss: one hour of sleep to be exact.
Lasting until November, daylight saving time is a topic of debate across the country. By “springing forward”, Canadians can experience longer light later in the evening but even with the extra light, the time change can also introduce risks, including lost sleep, tired workers, and an increase in injuries.
In fact, the day referred to as Sleepy Monday doesn’t only impact our sleep for just one night, but according to the Sleep Foundation, some people never fully acclimate into daylight saving time. This “circadian misalignment” is a change in the circadian rhythm, which are the physical, mental, and behavioral changes the body experiences over a 24-hour cycle. This misalignment can be serious when combined with “social jet lag” - the demands from common places, like work or school, which take priority over a full night’s sleep. Social jet lag has been linked to higher risks of health hazards like obesity, depression, and cardiovascular disease.
Adjusting to a new rhythm
It is normal for the effects of daylight saving time to subside after a few weeks, but in the meantime, there are ways to help workers adjust to the change.
First, remind them about the upcoming change via email, meetings, or a notice on the bulletin board or in the lunchroom. They might have it marked in their calendars, but an additional friendly reminder can go a long way, especially if it gives workers time to prepare.
Preparation can look like a lot of things, like starting or maintaining a consistent routine. Encourage workers to set a regular bed-and-wake time, even when they’re not working, like on weekends. Before daylight saving time arrives, educate workers on how much sleep they should be getting: a minimum of seven hours is recommended. Preparation can also include allowing a flexible start time, especially on the Monday after the time change.
You can also inform workers about good sleep hygiene. This involves ways to better your sleep, like not consuming alcohol, or eating a heavy dinner or snack before bedtime. Also, avoid using your phone before you head to bed. These tips can be especially helpful for shift workers who have varied schedules—both for work and mealtimes.
To help workers adjust, encourage outdoor activity. Outdoor time helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, plus exposure to sunlight can boost energy. Consider promoting lunch walks or walking meetings if possible. Not only will the sunlight help, but activating the body can invigorate the mind.
Time for a change…in safety precautions
Daylight saving time doesn’t just take a toll on sleep schedules, but it can impact the workday as well. To reduce workplace risks, defer work that might be hazardous to later in the week if possible. This timing gives workers more time to adjust to their sleep schedules, so they’re better rested for the work.
In addition, workplaces can take extra safety precautions on the days following the adjustment to daylight saving time. Precautions could include assigning extra safety monitors, especially for work that involves heavy duty equipment like cranes, forklifts, or for those working with machines.
Lastly, workplaces can use daylight saving time as a reminder to pay attention to workers’ schedules, making sure they are getting the breaks and sleep they need so they can remain alert and safe at work—not just in March, but all year round.
To keep everyone healthy and safe when travelling for work, these free resources can help:
These resources were developed in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada. View all health and safety resources.
Workplaces play a critical role in supporting workers amidst the challenges posed by climate change. These challenges can include operational disruptions, increased physical health risks such as heat stress, and mental health concerns like eco-anxiety, which can lead to depression and insomnia.
To address these challenges, workplaces can take proactive measures, starting with identifying hazards and assessing risks through a climate change lens. This infographic outlines the subsequent steps, the impacts on workers and workplaces, and practical support measures to help protect workers both physically and mentally.
Share this infographic to help create an environment where climate change concerns are heard and addressed.
Looking for practical advice for implementing mental health and safety programs in your organization? Learn more about our free webinar on March 6 and register today.
Beyond the Assessment: Recognize, Assess, Control and Evaluate
Mary Ann Baynton of Workplace Strategies for Mental Health joins CCOHS to discuss prevention practices and how mental health intersects with inclusion, diversity, and equity.
Applying an intersectional approach will help in assessing the potential impacts, enabling you to identify risks and potential challenges for your diverse workforce.
45-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute question and answer period.
Live French audio interpretation available.
Wednesday, March 6, 2024
11 am ET | 1 hour
CCOHS releases new podcasts each month to help you stay current and informed on workplace health, safety, and well-being in Canada.
Featured podcast: Musculoskeletal Disorders and Mental Health
Musculoskeletal disorders, also known as MSDs, aren’t just an ergonomic issue. Psychosocial factors like stress, job dissatisfaction, and feeling unsupported can impact your workload and work pace, too, increasing the risk of an MSD or mental health injury. By understanding the relationship between both physical and mental injuries, workplaces can take steps toward assessment and prevention.
Dr. Heather O’Reilly (nee Johnston) from McMaster University discusses the connection between musculoskeletal disorders and psychological factors, and what workplaces and workers can do to limit risks for injuries.
Encore Podcast: Take a Stand on Ergonomic Hazards
Preventing any ergonomic injury starts with identifying the hazards and risk factors. Here’s what to look out for when it comes to standing on the job.
Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day is right around the corner. As the only "non-repetitive" day of the year, February 29 is the ideal date to devote to raising awareness of these painful injuries.
Repetitive strain injuries develop over time and affect tendons, muscles, nerves and joints in the neck, upper and lower back, chest, shoulders, arms, and hands. Prevention starts with knowing the signs, and symptoms which can include pain, redness, swelling, joint stiffness, pins and needles, or numbness.
Visit our RSI Awareness Day webpage to download free resources like posters, infographics and social media cards to help support prevention efforts in your workplace.
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The Health and Safety Report, a free monthly newsletter produced by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), provides information, advice, and resources that help support a safe and healthy work environment and the total well being of workers.
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