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The pitfalls of getting an extra hour of sleep — end of Daylight Savings Time

The end of daylight savings time occurs Sunday morning at 2 a.m., which means an extra hour of sleep for most of the country — except for Fort St. John, Charlie Lake, Taylor and Dawson Creek and Creston in B.C. and all but a few places in Saskatchewan.

However, according to Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) the next two weeks are critical for drivers.

ICBC has said 16 per cent increase in the average number of crashes in B.C. during the late afternoon commute in the two weeks following the end of Daylight Savings Time compared to the two weeks prior to the change.

The biggest impacts can be felt on some of the key skills that affect the quality of our driving – concentration, alertness behind the wheel and reaction time to potential hazards.

While the fall time change means we can get an extra hour of sleep, according to an ICBC survey, 30 per cent of drivers overcompensate for that extra hour by staying up later and therefore losing any potential benefit of the extra rest.

Here are ICBC’s tips to help you adjust to the time change:

  • In darker, poor conditions, visibility is significantly reduced making it difficult to see pedestrians and cyclists on our roads. That’s why it’s important to give yourself extra time so you aren’t rushing and adjust your speed to the conditions you encounter. Always be on the lookout for pedestrians and cyclists – especially at intersections and near transit stops where pedestrians will be coming and going and may not use crosswalks.
  • Prepare your vehicle for the change in weather. Clean your vehicle’s headlights and check that they’re all working properly, especially your rear lights. Make sure you have enough windshield wiper fluid and that your wipers are in good condition.
  • Keep your regular sleep/wake cycle. Go to bed at the same time you normally would so you can benefit from that extra hour of sleep. Don’t assume you are more rested and alert on the road the mornings following the change as the time change can impact the quality of your sleep and affect your body’s internal clock.