Daylight savings time needs to stop now
// Colin Spensley

There are few things people hate more than missing out on a few hours of sleep. So why is it that twice a year Canadians sleeping patterns are disrupted by an archaic tradition with no relevant data to back up its purpose?

A New Zealand entomologist shift worker and avid bug collector G.V Hudson first introduced the idea of Daylight Savings Time (DST) in 1985 when he realized that more daylight meant more bug collecting; and thus, DST was born.

Proponents for DST claim it is an effective and simple method of saving energy and encouraging people to maximize their time outdoors during hours of sunlight. Although heavily debated since its inception, DST made its way across the world, and was officially adopted by the USA in the mid-1980s.

The main problem with DST is just how ineffective and unregulated it has been. Although all countries practice the standardized time zone method of time keeping, not all nations continue to use DST and most do not have a standardized time at which to change the clocks back and forwards one hour.

For example, mainland Chile observes DST from mid-October until mid-March. Because Chile changes its DST at different times than other nations, the time difference between England and Chile, for example, is three hours in the summer months, and five hours in the winter. This can often be a nuisance, not only in people’s personal lives, but in the work force as well.

No longer is DST just a plain sleep-depriving nuisance, either. Studies have been released in the last few years that indicate that not only is DST inconvenient, it’s downright dangerous. CBC reported that there is an increase of accidental deaths on job sites of six per cent the day after DST.

"Losing an hour of sleep contributes to sleep debt," says Shyam Subramanian, a pulmonologist at Baylor College of Medicine in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. "If you don't make up the debt, it manifests in waking up tired, needing a lot of caffeine to get going, nodding off during the day."

If the accident doesn't kill you, your body’s reaction might. Science Daily recently reported a rise in heart attacks the day after DST: “The Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead one hour in March is associated with a ten per cent increase in the risk of having a heart attack," says UAB Associate Professor Martin Young, Ph.D., in the Division of Cardiovascular Disease. "The opposite is true when falling back in October. This risk decreases by about ten per cent.”

Not only are these health effects legitimate, the mental strain resulting from DST has also been widely documented in the last few years. Although DST is attributed to aiding recovery from Seasonal Affective Disorder through additional sunlight hours, an Australian study from 1986-2001 regarding suicide rates post DST concluded that rates in male suicides rose steeply in the week following the one hour time shift.

So is DST worth these blatant pitfalls? Many current researchers would have you believe that it is not. In countries such as Russia and Iceland, a movement towards “permanent daylight savings time” has been seen in the last few years. The positive effects of DST continue to be discredited and the concept of DST has been dragged through the mud by the public and opponents of DST, so can we just quit changing our clocks back already? The answer is, yes, we can, as soon as our old-fashioned governments figure out that no one needs sunlight; we’re all just watching Netflix with the curtains drawn anyways.

//Colin Spensley, columns editor
//Graphics by JJ Brewis

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