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Saturday night or Sunday morning we will all mindlessly set our clocks ahead and bemoan the hour we won't get back until October.

And on Monday and Tuesday, our risk of having a car accident will rise about 6%, research shows, as will our chances of being in a workplace accident. Productivity traditionally plummets too, in the days after a shift to daylight saving time.

So why do we all engage in this annual ritual?

Probably not for the reasons you think.

There's a national myth that we switch our clocks to give more daylight to the farmers, but it wasn't until 1966, when the farm lobby was shrunk and weakened, that their half-century of opposition to daylight saving was overruled.

Ben Franklin didn't invent it either, although he did suggest that cannons should be fired off at dawn so the lazy Parisians of the mid-18th century didn't waste precious daylight hours.

And, contrary to popular belief, switching our clocks doesn't save energy - in fact, it adds to our tab.

The reason? The switch encourages us to spend more time outdoors in the evening, driving to shopping malls, patronizing local sports teams and stopping at the convenience store to fill up our tanks and ourselves, said Michael Downing, author of the 2005 book, Spring Forward: the Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, and a creative writing professor at Tufts University outside of Boston.

Plus, we all revel in long summer evenings, made possible by that shift in time.

Not to be a killjoy, but management professor Christopher Barnes, of the University of Washington, said he only sees a downside to the time shift, which robs us of at least 40 minutes of sleep by Monday morning.

"I have not seen any benefits of this change," said Barnes, an expert in organizational behavior. "I've only seen a downside in my data and the other studies."

Barnes' research has shown that what he calls Sleepy Monday could be called Risky Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday are more dangerous than usual, too, but the elevated risk fades by the end of the week. He's documented an increase in workplace injuries and the severity of those injuries, and more "cyberloafing" - looking at online entertainment websites (and so cute kittens), instead of working. Other research shows that heart attack rates and car accidents are significantly higher on Sleepy Monday.

"Just from a small amount of lost sleep we see a noticeable effect," he said.

Psychologist Stanley Coren, of the University of British Columbia, in Canada, agrees that losing sleep is bad news. But Coren, who did some of the original research on traffic accidents and daylight saving, also sees an upside to the time shift.

Because it'll be brighter for the commute home for the next few weeks, there will be fewer car accidents from twilight driving, he said.

And there's one simple way to make Sleepy Monday safer and therefore reap all the benefits and none of the costs.

"Go to bed an hour earlier," Coren said. "It's not rocket science."

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