Hate springing ahead? You’ll really hate permanent daylight saving time
When Albertans go to the polls for the municipal election on October 18th they will be asked if they want the biannual clock changing from daylight saving time (DST) to standard time and back to come to an end.
The question on the ballot will read: “Do you want Alberta to adopt year-round daylight saving time, which is summer hours, eliminating the need to change our clocks twice a year?”
In 2019, 141,000 Albertans were surveyed on the question of DST. Ninety-one per cent of them said the practice of changing Alberta's clocks twice a year should end.
But voting to move to daylight saving time year round will not provide the relief from the clock changing blahs that many expect.
In fact University of Calgary chrono-biologist Michael Antle says it will be far worse.
“Dawn in December in Calgary is around 8:30 or just a tiny bit later. So now there's going to be dawn at 9:30 in our major cities, and even later, in other places.
"(In) places like Grand Prairie it is going to be 10:20 in the morning when the sun rises," said Antle who studies how time and daylight affect people’s physical and mental health.
STRESSFUL LATE SUNRISE
Antle said there is a noticeable effect on people in the spring as we lose an hour of sleep at the time change, but it does not compare to the stress the later sunrise will bring.
“We find that people through most of April actually are in a permanent state of jetlag," he said. "It actually takes them a while to get caught up, so sleepy Monday is really bad.
"That's the Monday after we spring forward," he added, "but we actually find (sleep) deficits and behavior performance and health for a little while afterwards. Now the problem is, that's a month, that's not fun. We're going to be taking that one month now, and making four and a half extra months that are that bad in the winter.”
RUSSIA REVERSES COURSE
Antle points to the move by Russia, which is close to the same latitude as Canada. That country moved to permanent DST in 2012 and switched back within two years.
“They couldn't deal with the long, dark Russian mornings in the winter," he said. "And it was psychologically damaging for them.”
He also noted that the United States abandoned a similar experiment in the early 1970s “They gave up halfway through the first winter because there was a number of kids that were killed waiting for their buses and a lot of people attribute that to it was dark now they're standing around waiting for the bus but it's actually probably more the sleepy drivers people getting behind the wheel of a car when they're not fully awake yet.”
Antel said evidence from sleep and circadian scientists worldwide is that moving to year round standard tome is a better solution for the health and well being of people.
“There will be a mismatchbetween what you do in your life and what your circadian clock wants to do., and the bigger that difference, the worse it is for health. Unfortunately, moving to daylight saving time is going to put us all in this permanent state of “social jetlag”.
The province said it made the decision to opt for permanent daylight saving time in the referendum question after looking at what similar jurisdictions were doing across North America.
In a statement to CTV, Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish;’s press secretary Tricia Velthuizen wrote:” Service Alberta has heard from the business community that their greatest concern would be if Alberta acted in isolation from what was happening elsewhere. “
The statement went on to say,
”As the minister has said, there is both a danger of acting in isolation and of not acting in isolation. When we look at what other regions are considering, the vast majority are considering a move to permanent daylight saving time (summer hours). “
The idea of moving to permanent DST is not a new one in Alberta. Thomas Dang the NDP MLA for Edmonton-South proposed such a change when that party was in power. That plan was dropped after businesses ranging from ski hills, to airlines to professional hockey teams all said it would severely impact their ability to conduct operations in Alberta.
The referendum on daylight saving time will be binding on the government, so whatever Albertans choose will eventually be enacted as law.
The other referendum question being posed to Albertans in October deals with the federal equalization program, the results of that question are not binding, and give the province no new authority over the federal program.
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