It’s time to change the clocks, our twice a year experience of feeling tired and out of whack is back again this weekend. We will be putting an end to Daylight Saving Time (DST) and going to Standard Time (ST). Sunday, November 3, 2019, 2:00:00 am clocks are turned backward 1 hour to Sunday, November 3, 2019, 1:00:00 am local standard time instead. But is it a good idea and do we even want it?
Every year we make this change and every year in the days following it there are negative effects on us. For example, an American study found that across the US there was a significant increase in fatal accidents on the Monday after each change. On that same day, twice each year, hospitals report a 24% spike in heart-attack visits around the US.
In fact the switching to DST and back can have negative impacts on our health according to numerous studies:
- A Swedish study found that the risk of having a heart attack increases in the first 3 weekdays after switching to DST in the spring.
- Tiredness induced by the clock change is thought to be the main cause for the increase in traffic accidents on the Monday following the start of DST.
- On Mondays after the start of DST there were more workplace injuries, and the injuries were of greater severity compared with other Mondays.
- The start of DST has also been linked to miscarriages for in vitro fertilization patients.
- A Danish study found an 11% increase in depression cases after the time seasonal change. The cases dissipated gradually after 10 weeks.
- An Australian study found that male suicide rates increased the days after the spring and fall DST shift.
A survey of B.C. residents released in September 2019 revealed that a staggering 93 percent of people would prefer to move to permanent daylight saving time. The BC Government has in turn begun proceedings to remove the time change. Most of Saskatchewan did away with the time change long ago. Parts of Nunavut and Quebec have also stopped the practice, though not the whole. In Ontario there are already a few locations that did away with the change; Pickle Lake, Atikokan, and New Osnaburgh in northern Ontario. There was also legislation put forward back in April 2019, by a Liberal MPP that wanted the province to move clocks forward in March 2020 and then stay with that time.
But that doesn’t mean stopping the change is as easy as you might think. Even once you determine you no longer wish to change the clocks you are left with a question; which time to you make permanent? DST or ST? Sleep experts have also expressed concerns offer the impact of permanent DST. Dr. Myriam Juda from Circadian Light Therapy Inc. told Global News that year-round DST would mean later sunrises in the winter, leading to decreased exposure to morning sunlight. “When the exposure to sunlight in the morning is reduced, our biological clocks drift later and later, making it harder to wake up and causing an increased mismatch between the body clock and local time,” Juda said. “DST also exposes people to more evening light, which further delays the biological clock and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Both sleep deprivation and social jetlag have negative effects on physical and mental health, including increased risks for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression, and some forms of cancer.”
So if we will see an end to DST and if so how and when is a big question mark. But what is clear is that the time change does us no favours when it comes to our health.