Should we end Daylight Saving Time?
Daylight Saving Time – Just last weekend it was time to ‘Spring Forward’ once again. Daylight Saving Time (DST) began on Sunday March 12th at 2:00 am, when clocks were turned forward one hour to 3:00 am local time across most of North America, Europe and even parts of the Middle East. Only about 70% percent of countries follow DST – and it is possible the other 30%, with their clocks unchanged, are actually healthier and happier for it.
Sunrise and sunset will arrive one hour later on our timepieces than the day before, so for many people waking up at their scheduled times for work or school, it will be darker in the morning – but it will be lighter in the evening for the ride home and running errands. Then in early November we will ‘Fall Behind’ again when DST ends and the throes of winter are within sight. But it also making us unhealthy, costing us money and even putting us in dangerous situations.
Although the idea of daylight saving time was tossed around for different reasons since the late 1700’s, it really began during World War I, when in 1916 Germany became the first country to officially use the energy saving measure in an effort to conserve coal. Then Britain, along with several other European countries followed suit, but it wasn’t until 1918 when the time change crossed the ocean to North America. It was then repealed after the war and only really standardized in the mid-1960’s, but the history of DST is fragmented with information about when and where it was first implemented.
Nonetheless, daylight saving time is now observed in most Canadian provinces and the laws related to it are a really a provincial matter. It was first used to save energy during war time, so why do we still bother with it now?
Numerous studies have shown that the hour of sleep we lose by ‘springing ahead’ can seriously affect our health. They show an increase in heart attacks and strokes linked to the time change, there is a significant increase in car accidents in the days following and even an increase in work-related accidents.
Our bodies are governed by our natural clocks which rely on light – and time changes just mess us up with sudden disruptions to our sleep. When our body clocks are interrupted by DST it can cause a decrease in our performance and concentration levels, as well as an increase in fatigue.
A recent online survey by Léger Marketing for Bon Matin Bread indicated close to 58% of Quebecers could take up to a week to adapt to the changes. It showed that DST has a negative effect on our behavior with up to 35% of those polled reporting difficulty waking up, 21% reporting a lack of energy and 13% finding themselves feeling very irritable after the clocks are moved forward – or back for that matter.
It even affects cows. Farmers have have been opponents of DST for years because it confuses the cows and their schedules and creates other drawbacks in everyday farm life. Because of that, the province of Saskatchewan does not change its clocks and there are areas in other provinces including the eastern part of Quebec’s North Shore who have chosen to opt out.
The loss of daylight in the mornings also means some children have to wait for their school buses in the dark – a concern to many parents. The extra hour of light at the end of the day might make it easier for children to participate in outdoors activities in the evenings, but it can also make putting them to bed more challenging.
There are also environmental and economic concerns attached to DST. In the summer months it creates more traffic later into the evening – and that creates an increase in fuel consumption and resulting in higher levels of pollution. In 2014 Manitoba Public Insurance said there was a 20 per cent increase in claims for car accidents on the province’s roads the Monday following the spring time change.
We can’t deny that changing our clocks has serious consequences. As many of us are shocked into the unnatural change of darkness in the morning and less sleep, voices have been consistently rising to put an end the Daylight Saving Time – and perhaps it is time for the powers that be to start listening.
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