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Preparing for the Clock Change

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This weekend, the clocks are once again set to change, as Daylight Saving Time comes into force at 02:00 on Sunday morning when the clocks are put forward an hour to 03:00.

However, although this change in time might seem insignificant, it can cause an imbalance in our body which in turn can cause fatigue, sleep or distractions that can have an impact on road safety.

Preparing for the Clock Change 2

One of the biggest changes the body will experience during the change is that whilst the pace of life remains the same, the hours we have become accustomed to will change. If our alarm clocks are set for 08:00, the reality is that we are waking at what our body has got used to as being 07:00. Similarly, at the end of the day, as we might consider settling down for bed at 11 in the evening, our body might not feel ready as it still thinks it is 10, for example.

Medically, it is known that the change in time can also lead to an increase in the chance of suffering migraines or stress related conditions as a result of the change. These episode can cause a distraction in their own right and can lead to incapacity at times, but some medications can also cause problems for drivers, so always check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are feeling symptomatic or taking any kind of medication.

Sleep experts say that the best way of overcoming the problems the body identifies is to maintain a stable sleep ad meal patter, making sure you get a good 8 hours sleep per night, and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine.

Sleep deprivation and drowsiness is a known contributing factor in many road related incidents. In fact, drowsiness is the primary cause in 30% of all daytime collisions and incidents. More than 40% of all incident son the roads are closely related to fatigue, closely related to sleep, and almost 20% of these incidents involve commercial vehicles.

Reaction times are increased when sleepy, and a person can suffer severe reductions in concentration, motor and sensory delays, resulting in mistakes in movements and decisions, as well as perceptual disturbances.

Drivers who are normally at risk of sleep related incidents include shift workers, young people, those with sleep-related illnesses and whilst driving under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs.

As for the time that most sleep related incident occur, it is on a weekday, Monday to Friday, between 08:00 and 20:00, and more often during routine drives, as well as on long-haul journeys.

Although this is a human condition which can and should be monitored by every individual driver, scientists are doing their bit to try to reduce the problem as well. In 2014 the Biomechanics institute in Valencia announced the development of a new system they were calling HARKEN.

The system was based around the development of a seatbelt which monitored a driver´s heart rate and gave an alert if the person´s body was showing signs of drowsiness, urging the driver to pull over for a rest.

However, it is important that we all do the same thing and monitor our own feelings, stopping for a rest if we are starting to feel tired, regularly on long journeys, sharing the driving and being prepared to respond to our own body´s warnings in good time.

Whilst taking these facts into consideration, one final thing to remember is to change the clock in your car to reflect the change in time, after all, there is always one clock somewhere we forget.

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