COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The clocks “spring forward” this weekend, marking the start of Daylight Saving Time.
It’s a time of year where emergency rooms see an uptick in patients who have been in accidents, according to Dr. Michelle Kincaid, a trauma surgeon at Grant Medical Center.
“Whether it’s car accidents, motorcycle, ATV, [it’s] related to Daylight Saving, but also it’s usually the time of year when the weather gets nicer and people are doing more risky behaviors,” Kincaid said.
Doctors said the effects of the time change can last for several days after it happens. The change affects people’s sleep habits in the fall as well as the spring.
“There’s some people that looked at the fall Daylight Saving, and maybe an increase in pedestrians being hit by cars because […] it’s a little bit darker sooner and people aren’t paying as close attention when they’re driving,” Kincaid said.
For most people, paying careful attention to wake time and bedtime can help lessen the problems caused by the time change, but it can be a bigger challenge for people with sleep disorders.
“When there’s insomnia, people have more trouble shifting their sleep cycles, so they should really follow good sleep hygiene, cut out the caffeine, exercise more but not right before bed,” said Dr. Robert Kowatch, who specializes in sleep disorders and child psychiatry.
To stay out of the emergency room, doctors recommend some simple steps.
“Certainly being cognizant of maybe a lack of sleep the night before, always avoiding drugs and alcohol when driving, and certainly distracted driving is a big problem that we’re seeing,” Kincaid said.
Dr. Kowatch said the time change in the spring can be especially tough for children.
“You can put them to bed earlier, but you can’t make them fall asleep, but you can get them up earlier,” Kowatch said.
Kowatch recommended waking children up half an hour earlier Saturday morning and an hour earlier Sunday morning ahead of the change, so they will be back on track for Monday.
“So if they’re getting up normally at 7, you get them up at 6:30. You make them a special breakfast, and they’re excited,” Kowatch said. “And you keep them active all day long, no naps. Saturday evening, they’re going to be more tired.”
With three children, Jamie Macey has learned how to handle Daylight Saving Time and the challenges it brings.
“Moving their bedtime a little bit at a time, or keeping them up after a nap, or not doing a nap,” Macey said.
While Marlee, who is six months old, hasn’t yet experienced the clocks springing forward, Sofia, who is four years old, has.
“She’ll get a little cranky or tired, and that’s where you kind of have to just play it by ear,” Macey said. “And if she’s really tired and it’s before bedtime, you just kind of go with the flow and put her down and if not, then wait until it’s time.”
Sometimes, though, the process involves a lot of trial and error. Macey learned that with her oldest son, who is now 13.
“We would kind of try to push it, but if there was crankiness that came in, and we were much more lax about not pushing it with the first kid than with the other ones, but these ones, we know it’s necessary,” Macey said.
Kowatch said if children have trouble sleeping, it is generally OK to give them a small amount of melatonin to help them fall asleep. He recommended one to three milligrams of melatonin. It is always best to talk to your child’s pediatrician about that.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol said it didn’t note an uptick in car crashes after Daylight Saving Time. However, OSHP warned people about the time change when it comes to serving alcohol.
Bars and establishments that typically serve alcohol until 2:30 a.m. will have to stop serving at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, when the clocks spring forward. Otherwise, they could face an after-hours violation.