VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Never does your Monday morning alarm feel like it comes earlier than today, the day after the clocks jump ahead for Daylight Saving Time.

The accident rate jumps, there are more losses on the stock market, and people are just more fumbly as we lose another hour in our already sleep-starved schedules.

“The data is pretty clear on this,” says Dr. Stanley Coren, UBC psychology professor and noted sleep expert. “There is a marked increase in accidents today because, as a society, we are chronically sleep deprived. When we lose an extra hour of sleep, that kicks our sleep debt up by a notch and what starts to happen is something we call microsleeps.”

Sound familiar? Your hands are on the wheel but you can’t remember the last minute on the road.

“A microsleep is a situation where suddenly, without any warning, your brain goes into a sleep state. It will do that anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute and half. Obviously if you are tooling down the street and you go into a microsleep that is not good for your vehicular safety,” Coren explains.

“A person watching you wouldn’t notice you’re falling asleep. Some of the studies recorded the brain waves of drivers and, in fact, they showed their eyes were still open, their hands were still on the wheel, but all of a sudden their brains start to show the characteristic brainwaves of Stage One sleep. You are no longer processing information from the real world.”

A 15 to 20 second microsleep while you are driving at just 50 km/h could have you travelling the length of a football field while not fully conscious. But despite the spike in accidents the day after we ‘spring ahead’, Coren says the shift to Daylight Saving Time is a good thing.

“The purpose of Daylight Saving Time was to save energy and to function more during the daylight hours. We can show that the number of accidents – vehicular, industrial and otherwise – is considerably less when there’s more light. So although there is an increase right after the time shift, there is a small decrease in accidents on a day-by-day basis just from simply having more light. In the long run, there are actually fewer accidents.”

Of course there is an easy cure, just make sure you get to bed an hour earlier the night before the time change and try to get a full night’s sleep before that Monday morning alarm goes off.

Too late for that? Try an extra large coffee on your commute.