Maybe everyone should just get the day off after clocks are sprung forward for Daylight Savings Time.

Perhaps motivated by a spike in typos or reporting errors by its staff the day after clocks are set forward an hour, Atlantic Monthly nosed around to see if the time change was linked to poor performance at work. The magazine turned up the findings of a 2009 study that identified more mistakes and on-the-job injuries immediately following the time change. The culprit? The 40 minutes of sleep the average American worker loses while adjusting to the change.

OK, so everyone is tired and just a little cranky that day. But what are the results? Here's what a Michigan State University research team found after analyzing 576,292 mining injuries sustained from 1983 to 2006. (The baseline of on-the-job injuries for coal miners was about 63 injuries on the average Monday):

  • The Monday after Sleepless Sunday, the number of injuries increased by 3.6 injuries, an increase of nearly 6 percent.

  • The number of days of work lost increased by 2,649.

  • The increase in days of work lost meant that the severity of the Monday injuries was higher compared to other Monday injuries.

  • The level of experience of injured workers was not a factor in the number of injuries on Spring Forward Mondays, but it was a clear factor in Fall Back Mondays.

The researchers studied similar stats for the Monday following Fall Backward Sunday. While they found that people tended to sleep about 12  minutes longer on that night, they could identify no clear pattern in injuries the next day, save that the less experienced workers had more, which routinely happens anyway.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.