Daylight saving time is coming. That means a little more sunshine at the end of the day but a little less sleep for some. And when you put a bunch of tired drivers behind the wheel of a car, you have a dangerous recipe for accidents and crashes.

When that clock springs forward, we gain an hour of sunlight in the evening but lose an hour of sleep the night before. That often throws our sleep patterns out of whack and has a negative effect on the Monday morning commute. Studies show an uptick in the number of fatal car crashes on the Monday after the time change – some by as much as 17%.

Many of us are already overtired or sleep-deprived so another hour of lost sleep is hard to take. But there are a few things you can do to prepare for the change and reduce your risk of a crash.

First off, be aware of the time change and be prepared for it. That means getting to bed earlier than usual. Some people take more time to adjust than others. You know your own body and how you react to the change so get plenty of sleep and be rested and ready.

That hour difference also means the sun is rising later. In Vancouver, the 6:30 a.m. sunrise on Friday becomes a 7:30 a.m. sunrise on Monday. Depending on when you start your regular commute, conditions may be darker than in the previous week. Make sure your lights are working and clear from dirt and if you bike, that you have lights and reflectors.

On the Monday commute itself, be aware that others around you may be drowsy. Take extra caution when you’re in traffic, whether you’re driving, biking, or walking. Pay special attention going through intersections. Monday’s are hard enough, but with a little preparation and a lot of attention, you can spring forward with few problems.

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Neuroscientists have made an unexpected discovery that brings new meaning to the term “brainwash.”

In a study of mice, researchers found that the brains of awake mice were dry, whereas the brains of sleeping mice were full of fluid.

When mice fell asleep under the microscope, “It was almost like you opened a faucet,” said lead researcher Maiken Nedergaard.

The cerebrospinal fluid increased in volume by at least 60% during sleep. The benefit of the extra fluid? It washed away unwanted debris.

The Public Health Agency of Canada offers important guidelines for providing a safe sleeping environment for babies. The goal is to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or “SIDS”, in infants.

SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant less than a year old. The risk of SIDS is highest between two and four months of age.

While the cause of SIDS remains unknown, studies have identified risk factors that should be avoided to ensure maximum sleep safety for infants. There are five important steps that parents and caregivers can follow:

  1. Provide a smoke-free environment before and after your baby is born.
  2. Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, at naptime and night time.
  3. Provide your baby with a safe sleep environment that has a firm surface and no pillows, comforters, quilts, or bumper pads.
  4. Place your baby to sleep in a crib, cradle or bassinet next to your bed.
  5. Breastfeeding can protect your baby.

The rate of SIDS has dropped by more than 50% since the government launched a “Back to Sleep” campaign in 1999. This is in large part due to changes in a caregiver’s behavior like placing infants on their backs to sleep and decreasing smoking during pregnancy.

Caregivers should eliminate risks leading to unintentional suffocation. Loose bedding, blankets, pillows or bumpers should not be near a baby’s sleeping surface. It is also not recommended that babies share a bed with adults or other children.

September is Baby Safety Month. Play it forward. Save a Life.