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Spring Forward Giving

I recently read an article that described scientific research findings about people being less generous when they don’t get enough sleep and correlating that to a 10 percent decline in money donated in the days following the switch to daylight saving time. According to the study, published in the scientific journal PLOS Biology, when people don’t get enough sleep, they have less desire to help others.

The research analyzed over 3 million charitable donations from 2001 to 2016 in the weeks before and after the daylight saving time change — both in regions that made the switch and in those that didn’t. In locales where people lost an hour of sleep, there was a 10 percent drop in the amounts donated in the following week. In places where people didn’t change their clocks, including Arizona and Hawaii, there was no change in donation levels. The researchers also looked at the return to standard time in the fall, when people have the option of getting an extra hour of sleep, and found no significant effect, stating that people don't consistently get an extra hour of sleep.

These contradictory findings made me wonder whether this study went deep enough before making its conclusions. For example, the research compared actual giving results, rather than looking at whether targeted campaigns during that time got better results. The study also didn't include potential other events such as tax season or fiscal year-ends that may also be contributing factors.

Whether you choose to believe the study, or like me, take it with a grain of salt, one thing that I do think we should all keep in mind is that the time change can make many of us a bit more moody and grumpy, so as we move our clocks an hour forward, let's all try to find it in ourselves to be just a bit more kind and patient toward others.

(to be continued)

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