Research: Daylight Saving Time Prompts ‘Cyberloafing’

With an average of 40 minutes less sleep starting Monday, beware of increased Web surfing.

Okay, so Daylight Saving Time kicked in at 2 a.m. Sunday and our clocks sprang forward an hour. But here’s a disconcerting thought: Compared to previous weeks, tens of millions of people are likely to lose an average of 40 minutes of sleep starting Monday, which may, in turn, trigger cyberloafing—the tendency to goof off on the Internet at work instead of doing your job.

That’s the conclusion of a team of researchers led by David Wagner, an assistant professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources at the Singapore Management University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business.

The researchers, who were also from Virginia Tech University and Pennsylvania State University, found that people tend to lose their sense of self-restraint when deprived of sleep, which prompts them to spend more time surfing the Web than they otherwise would. The researchers urged policymakers to rethink the conventional reasons for implementing DST, and urged workplace managers to ensure that employees get sufficient sleep.

The research, evidently the first of its kind, used Google data to map Web-surfing patterns on Mondays before and after DST kicks in. The findings were published Feb. 27 in the “online first” issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, which precedes the print issue.

Given that about a third of the world participates in some form of Daylight Saving Time, the research suggests staggering productivity losses in the workplace, especially in light of the prevalance of knowledge-based work on the Internet.

Energy savings from DST are already negligible, according to the California Energy Commission, which is why as far back as 2001 California sought—but has yet to obtain—U.S. Congress approval to be allowed to discontinue Daylight Saving Time and remain on Standard Time.

You can read the full cyberloafing study in the attached PDF file. To read a summary, click this link.

And click this link to read our previous story about Daylight Saving Time from November 2011, when we turned back our clocks by an hour. Among other things, the informative article corrects the widespread misuse of the word “Savings” in DST—“savings” are what you keep in the bank.

The article also reminds readers that the biannual ritual of tinkering with the clock is also a good time to change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in homes.


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