Daylight Savings Time and "Cyberloafing"

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New research suggests that people “cyberloaf” (i.e. websurf instead of working) more when they are tired. Some people may find this surprising. (We do not.) If nothing else, this is another argument against Daylight Savings Time. As the BPS Research Digest explains:

The investigators recognised an event that affects everyone’s sleep: when the clocks go forward for Daylight Saving Time. Prior evidence suggests we lose on average 40 minutes of sleep per night following the switch, as our body rhythms struggle to adjust. (Exploiting a fixed phenomena is an example of a quasi-experiment; another would be the hurricane that occurred within this study on emotional hangovers.) The researchers used data from 203 metropolitan areas in the USA, weighted by area size, across 2004-2009. They found that Entertainment-related searches on the Monday after DST were 3.1% more prevalent than the previous Monday, and 6.4% than the subsequent Monday.

The research adds on to an existing body of work on willpower as a limited resource, which we’ve blogged about before.

Open question: does reading Freakonomics at work count as cyberloafing?  

We’ll keep an eye out for a traffic increase on Monday.


Of course I'll go into self-defense mode and claim that this site isn't cyberloafing, and is instead a logically diverse set of reading material from my normal business-related research, which may lead to creative breakthroughs that will benefit my employer.

But I will confess that it doesn't exactly take a lot of my willpower to visit the blog regularly...

Enter your name...

What would it take to get rid of this clock-changing exercise? I don't care whether we end up on "standard" or "daylight" time, just so long as we can pick one and stick with it.


Not surprising at all. I find that when I'm tired, I'm more easily distracted at work and much less likely to be productive.


Not an argument against DST but an argument against the switch from DST to EST and vice versa yearly. We need to pick which time is better for year round and stay there.


This is not an argument against daylight saving time. It is an argument against turning our clocks ahead an hour every spring and back an hour in the fall. We could choose to make daylight saving time the standard and leave it.

Chris Callahan

I never check out the Freakonomics blog when not Cyberloafing. Embrace it! :)


I am cyberloafing right now.


There's no reason to be adjusting our clocks twice a year. Pick one and stay with it.


Nyayapati Gautam

I have never understood why you Americans indulge in it. My usual explanations for American actions that I don't know much about or can't really understand - Problems of Plenty/Arrogance of the Sole Superpower etc - do not work here.

So what exactly is the reason, especially when people seem to think it is not a very bright idea in the first place....

Steve O

I've always understood that it's inertia. It was created back when daylight mattered in day-to-day business (especially farming), and no one's been able to put an end to it yet. Here in Indiana, where we're torn between wanting to be on NYC time or Chicago time, we held out and had both for years (by not having Daylight Savings Time), but we finally succumbed a couple years ago like 48 of the other states.


Daylight does still matter to a lot of us.

As for why it was created, it's because some people thought the clock was more important than daylight. They thought it easier to set the clocks ahead an hour so they could work the same clock hours, than to adjust working times according to the sun. Thus they disrupt everyone's biorhythms, and pay the cost in lost productivity.


The obvious solution is to stay on daylight savings time all year round. Why is this the obvious solution? Because I like having some sunlight when I leave the office at 5. Also, it makes the post-work golf season longer.

Steve O

I got less than 4 hours of sleep last night because I couldn't fall asleep. Now I'm commenting on this blog instead of working...

Andreas Moser

The trick is to start early in the morning:


I don't bother changing my clocks twice a year but I'm always a half hour late in the summer and a half hour early in the winter.

Julie Pereira

We at eXelate found an 8.5% increase in entertainment searches on this Monday versus last Monday, the 5th!


Slightly off-topic, but the proper term is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time. For more information, refer to the article on


i'm doing it and it's a tuesday at 6:30 pm on my way out that door:-)

btw not tired