April 19th, 2024

Are there any actual benefits to changing the time?

By Lethbridge Herald on March 8, 2024.

Al Beeber – managing editor

For better, worse or indifferent, daylight saving time returns on Sunday morning when most Canadians will notice on their smartphones that time has suddenly passed quicker than they may have thought after a nocturnal visit to the bathroom or to let the dog out.

At 2 a.m. Sunday when many of us are asleep, the time will suddenly leap ahead an hour and if we’re on a schedule, we’ll be awakening sooner than the day before.

I don’t know about you but I’m increasingly finding this twice annual ritual a bit tedious.

I know by now we should all be able to easily change the clocks on our stoves and in our vehicles but do we actually?

I get that DST is intended to provide us with the maximum amount of daylight but does anybody really care anymore? Are people going to stay outside longer because it’s a bit lighter out and if so what impact is that going to have on them the next day?

DST was first adopted in the world by Port Arthur, Ont. – now part of Thunder Bay – back in 1908. Over the decades it has been tried, and sometimes dropped, by countries around the world, Canada being among the few which still implement the practice in most jurisdictions, Saskatchewan being the obvious exception.

The benefits of DST certainly seem to be debatable. Google the subject and you can find a whole range of opinions with some suggesting energy is conserved with longer hours and traffic fatalities reduced.

But studies have shown clear detriments to health with the change including an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, which is kind of concerning to me given my age and impending graduation into official seniorhood.

According to John Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, DST impacts the sleep patterns of hundreds of millions of people – in the U.S. alone.

Aside from the heart attack and stroke risk, the “ change is also associated with a heightened risk of mood disturbances and hospital admissions, as well as elevated production of inflammatory markers in response to stress.” says the university. And contrary to some opinion it states that the risk of fatal traffic accidents actually rises by six per cent.

And energy consumption may actually rise with more daylight prompting people to run  cooling or heating systems longer.

According to the university, a 2020 study shows the change “exacerbates mood disorders, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.” So I guess I’ll be slamming more coffee come Monday and sinking lower when the Leafs lose. The university also states that having more light closer to bedtime makes it harder to fall asleep, reducing the amount of sleep we get.

For me, this is hugely problematic being a super early riser. I need that sleep to function properly at a high level because I literally hit the ground running when I get up. A quick shower and coffee and I’m out the door to walk then hit the office. My body can’t deal with the stress of less sleep and as I age I find myself crashing and burning much earlier than even a few years ago.

And that can’t be good for the health. Speaking of which John Hopkins states that not getting enough sleep can reduce cardiovascular health, increase diabetes and obesity, cause mental health issues and reduce cognitive performance.

Our own Steffanie Costigan has been looking into the matter this week and has interviewed a sleep doctor about the subject. That story will be running in Saturday’s paper and should be providing local insight into the subject.

 So is an extra hour of daylight really worth the risks? Perhaps we will find out tomorrow.

It seems to me from the extensive amount I’ve read on this subject, this is a matter Canadian provinces need to seriously investigate for the benefit of their residents. Maybe it’s time to follow Saskatchewan’s lead and put the time change to rest so we can get a little more rest ourselves.

MORE CONDOLENCES: Just when I thought  it was safe to look at the obituaries, I saw two more names I recognized this week.

The first was of Elijah Bourne who we grew up putting our money on at the horse races when we were kids going to the old Whoop-Up Downs in the 1970s.

Elijah was an amazing jockey and an absolutely wonderful human being. I hadn’t seen him for decades but have fond memories of his skills and winning a few dollars because he could always be counted on to put on a great race. His loss will be really felt by the horse racing community in southern Alberta. I hope he’s reconnected in the after-life with fellow horse trainer and friend Doug Bassett.

And I was shocked to see the death of Bruce Thurber who ran for council in 2021. Bruce was a regular at Popson Park and when Rio was mobile I had the pleasure of doing the occasional early morning walk with him and his pups. Condolences to his family and friends, as well.

OUT OF THE OFFICE TODAY: Veteran reporter Delon Shurtz will be filling in for me today as I use up a vacation day. It’s going to be a busy one, as I’ve discovered the last couple of days, but I’ve had this day booked for a couple of weeks now to spend some quiet time reflecting on the loss of my dad who died five years ago today.

 Between work and the three-year nightmare of dealing with his estate, I really haven’t had a chance to take some quality time to think about him so today I’m turning off the phone and doing what is overdue being done.

Enjoy your weekend!

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micro management to the idiot’s degree is the clock flipping. seems to me if the dumb countries that play with the clock could just split the difference – move the clock back in the fall, but just a half hour, and leave it alone thereafter.

Southern Albertan

I have, just, sent communication to the Premier asking for facilitation to discontinue DST, and leave it at Mountain Standard Time. As it is now, with turning clocks one hour ahead, we will have more traffic accidents, strokes, heart attacks…all proven to increase with messing with the time. This is, actually, how much DST negatively affects our natural circadian rhythm. The negative effects of DST only gradually subside after a few weeks. Alberta did have a vote on DST in 2021 with the majority not wanting permanent DST. What we did not have the opportunity to vote on, was permanent Mountain Standard Time.
So no, DST, overall, is not beneficial.


It appears to me that if countries that observe daylight saving time could simply compromise by adjusting the clocks backward in the fall, but by only half an hour, and then maintain that time throughout the year, it would be a more practical solution.
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