Is changing our clocks necessary?

It’s that time of the year again when we lose one hour of sleep and are forced to adjust our bodies to daylight saving time

It’s that time of the year again when we lose one hour of sleep and are forced to adjust our bodies to daylight saving time.

Most of us were tired and cranky on Monday (or was it just me?) and there’s no clear evidence that the benefits of changing our clocks twice a year outweigh the negative impacts. And since there’s no clear evidence, why do we keep doing it?

In 2015, two friends from Kamloops launched a petition asking the B.C. government to stop the biannual time change and remain on one time all year long – preferably daylight saving time (this would bring the sunrise time in northern B.C. to approximately 9 a.m. in December, so I would definitely stick with the standard time).

After gathering 26,490 signatures on their first petition, the Kamloops residents are now asking the B.C. government to make this issue a referendum question in the May 2017 provincial election. According to their petition, there is a growing collection of evidence to show that the biannual time change has plenty of unintended consequences. And they are correct.

According to an ICBC survey, 34 per cent of B.C. drivers admit that the time shift does affect them and make them feel less alert. “Losing an hour of sleep may have an impact on your alertness and reaction time when driving,” warned ICBC earlier this month.

A study by U.S. researchers found that pedestrians walking during the evening rush hour are nearly three times more likely to be struck and killed by cars in the weeks after the fall time change.

According to Reuters, another U.S. study released in 2014 found that switching over to daylight saving time, and losing one hour of sleep, raised the risk of having a heart attack the following Monday by 25 per cent, compared to other Mondays during the year. However, the study also found that heart attack risk fell 21 per cent later in the year, after the clock was returned to standard time, and people got an extra hour’s sleep.

Although there might not be a consensus on whether changing clocks is beneficial, I doubt that anybody disagrees that adjusting our clocks twice a year is extremely uncomfortable.

In Canada, it’s up to each province to decide whether to use daylight saving time. Saskatchewan abandoned it in 1966 – at the time, some believed the time change could disturb the province’s dairy cows – and stays on central standard time all year round. When I lived there, I certainly didn’t miss having to adjust to the clock twice a year (I bet the cows didn’t miss it either). Certain areas of Quebec, Ontario and B.C. also do not use daylight time.

If certain areas of Canada can survive without changing their clocks twice a year, I believe so can we.