Sleep and Insurance

Thanks to Ben Yoskovitz of Instigator Blog for a great idea as a topic that couldn't be related to insurance.

But, Ben -- of course sleep is related to insurance!

Do you know that there are more car accidents in the week after we go to Daylight Savings Time than the week before? In fact, accidents increase by 7 percent according to an article from Capital News Online. This happens every year. Why? Because everyone on the road has a case of artificially induced jet lag. We've all lost an hour's sleep! It doesn't affect people on the weekend because we typically have a more flexible schedule then. Unfortuantely, it hits (both literally and figuratively) on Monday as a bunch of sleepy drivers meet each other on the road for their regular morning commute.

Of course, it's not just Daylight Savings Time that creates sleepy drivers. Sleep deprivation is rampant in our 24-7 world. The article from Capital News Online indicates that it's more than just a small annoyance; sufficient sleep deprivation can make you as dangerous behind the wheel as a legally-impaired drunk!

Loss of sleep doesn't just mean loss of mental acuity. Wikipedia has an impressive and frightening list of potential problems related to sleep deprivation, including diabetes, brain function impairments, mood problems, irritability, hypertension, weakened immunity, obesity, and depression.

As you can imagine, anything which impairs my abilities or judgement could also lead to accidents -- whether in a vehicle or outside of one. Accidents mean insurance claims and liability suits. The more claims an insurance company pays, the higher the premiums it charges.

So, lack of sleep in our society actually means increased insurance costs for all.

This brings me to a suggestion to our legislators: how about pushing through that idea of permanent Daylight Savings Time? It means more daylight hours later in the day and better daylight during the time when people are on the road generally corresponds to fewer car accidents. It also means we never have to have that externally imposed sleep hangover again as my least favourite harbinger of spring.

Do you need to review your car insurance? Check out our auto insurance sponsors and get a quote. Maybe if you promise them to get to bed at a decent hour, they'll give you a better rate.

Monique L. Attinger
10 comments
Posted by editor@insuranceguide101.com on January 29,2007 at 2:03 PM
Indeed... Sleeping like a baby is an oxymoron, if I ever heard one! The good news is that it's a phase that passes, or there would be a lot more (and a lot more exhausted) drivers on the road...
Posted by Robert Hruzek on January 29,2007 at 9:50 AM
Monique, good thoughts to keep in mind.

Regarding your comment about taking care of young children, and found this in my quote feed today: "People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one."

(smile!)
Posted by editor@insuranceguide101.com on January 17,2007 at 2:10 AM
Hi, Frank! Thanks for your comment.

After all I've said about sleep, here I am up at 2 am my time, approving comments... In my defense, I'm the mother of small children and it was a tough night to get them into bed. (I can here the other parents murmuring their recognition of those kinds of nights!)

I agree that it seems odd that this was originally done to support farmers. One province of Canada doesn't go to Daylight Savings Time and that's Saskatchewan on the Canadian prairies. It's the farmers there (mostly crop farmers) who are primarily against it, as I understand it. So, it may work for some types of farming and clearly not for others.

Given my difficulties tonight convincing my 1 year old daughter that it was time to sleep in complete darkness, I can really understand why parents would be against Daylight Savings Time! Try getting an active 6 year old boy into bed when it's bright and sunny outside at 7:30!

Your suggested topic for a future post is a great challenge! I'll definitely have to mull that one over.
Posted by Frank Corless on January 16,2007 at 6:31 PM
Enlightening and interesting especially the developing discussion.  Here it was I thought farmers were against daylight savings.  They are here in Western Australia which is on a first trial of it this summer.  In our case it is to maintain a reasonable connection to our Eastern States for business purposes.  

Didn't know daylight savings was a hundred years old either.  When I first remember Wyoming taking it on I was in my teens.  The argument for taking it on was that people would have more recreation time with the sun.  It was parents with small children that needed early bedtimes that seemed to be against it then.

As for car accidents and sleep.  That seems to be a growing concern.  It is making a low more news lately.  Starting to see more tv ads about not driving tired.  

A possible topic for the future.  The bible, is it pro or con towards insurance?
Posted by editor@insuranceguide101.com on January 16,2007 at 4:13 PM
The whole issue of changing the clocks to provide more daylight for farmers always made me wonder: if you are a farmer who is producing crops, what difference can it make that we go to Daylight Savings Time? Couldn't the farmer simply orient the day to accomodate the work during the predominate daylight hours? Given that a farmer does not necessarily work for "boss" with limited business hours, it's always seemed like farmers would in fact have less need for DST than other workers. So, it's interesting that we are still flipping back and forth between Daylight and Standard time for a segment of the population that could actually have more control over when they work than the bulk of the people who are subject to it.
Posted by WealthyGeek on January 16,2007 at 4:07 PM
I think I agree with Monique on a permanent DST. When daylight savings was introduced to North America nearly 100 years ago, almost 40% of the population worked in farming/agriculture-related industries; it had to in order to produce enough food for everyone. But with advances in technology, that number today is less than 2%.

Meanwhile, far more people are using cars to commute into a white-collar work environment; and as this article points out, switching to DST creates a greater insurance risk during the week after the time change comes into effect.

With such a small percentage of people working in agriculture, the changing of the clocks seems like a bit of an anachronism.
Posted by editor@insuranceguide101.com on January 16,2007 at 12:55 PM
Thanks for the feedback, Sue! And that's exactly the issue: when the clocks fall back, we get an extra hour of sleep, and everyone feels more rested than usual. That part is great! It's the spring forward that really hurts.

My grandfather was a farmer. It's simply astounding the hour of the day that those folks get up. I'm sure they don't want it to be even earlier.
Posted by Sue Browning on January 16,2007 at 10:49 AM
I love the fall back, but spring forward just does me in.  I think a consistant time would be great.  The only problem, and alsways was, is that the poor farmers are up at an obscene hour to start their mornings.

Never would have thought of it in the context you have.
Thanks,
SB
Posted by editor@insuranceguide101.com on January 16,2007 at 7:20 AM
Thanks for the compliment, Ben! I think insurance is a bit part of life, and these posts are all about that.
Posted by Ben Yoskovitz on January 16,2007 at 6:48 AM
Clearly I should be asleep then...saving money on my insurance by not crashing the car!

Great post, and nicely done on connecting sleep with insurance.
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