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Description: OK, as we approach the date (November 6, 2022) when provinces and states in North America that switched to daylight saving time in the spring switch BACK to standard time consider these pop-quiz questions. If we HAD to pick one time (daylight saving or standard) and make it our permanent time, which would be better for us? Which transition (add an hour or lose and hour) is harder on us? DO these changes have any impact on us in general? Why can’t we just change the clocks and get on with our lives (why is it hard for us)?  We do not spend much time thinking about the fact that our bodies do a great many things day-to-day at times and in ways that are tied to our circadian rhythms. We tend to see ourselves as largely cognitive beings that can think about an immediately adjust to new circumstances. However, think about the last few time changes if you live in an area that makes the change to and from standard to daylight saving times each year. The adjustment is not as simple as just enjoying and extra hour of sleep in the fall when you gain an hour and starting your day with an extra cup of coffee in spring when you lose and hour. If you pay attention you can see that the effects of the time changes are with you thought several days at least and THAT is because your body adapts its circadian rhythm slowly. Importantly, there is more going on that just a few days of sluggishness. Thinking about our circadian rhythms and the impacts of time change can also show us that the typical plan, in the next year or so, to go to and to stay at daylight saving time which gives us the extra evening hours of sun and light in the summer when, especially those of us in northern climates, want as many hours of lighted, warm down-time as we can get. A potentially significant problem with this approach, most serious in northern places like Canada, is that this would mean that the winter sun rises later and later, and this effect is even MORE pronounced closer the western edges of each time zone. For example the sunrise in Lloydminster, Alberta on Jan 1st is 8:30 AM (standard time) and in Jasper, Alberta on the same day it is just after 9 AM. If we permanently shift to daylight saving time this would mean sunrises at 10 AM and 9:30 AM respectively in these two communities. So what? Well, our circadian rhythms are calibrated by sunlight (and can be tweaked by light therapy) and the hour later arrival of the winter sun each morning will make it much more difficult for many people, and especially for junior high school students, to get going physically and cognitively each day. Think about that and then have a read through the linked article that talks about some things folks can do to cope with the “fall back” time change and then think so more about what sort of change we should consider making to our year-round time (if any).

Source: How to Fall Back Without Missing Beat, Holly Burns. The New York Times.

Date: October 26, 2022

Image by BirgitKeil from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.nytimes.com/article/daylight-saving-time-preparation.html

Oh, yes, there was not much in the article about the larger impacts of fixing ourselves to daylight saving time year-round. You can read more about that in some of the article listed and linked in the Further Reading section below. That said, did you come away from the article with a deeper appreciation of the depth of influence out circadian systems have on our physical and psychological functioning? There is a lot of research out there on the impact of time change on our circadian rhythms and related functioning that is important to consider as we move towards decisions about staying on a fixed time. Which should it be?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things are influenced by our circadian rhythms?
  2. What are some of the effects of daylight-saving related time changes?
  3. If we are to stay permanently on standard or daylight-saving time, which should we pick and why?

References (Read Further):

Monmouth University Polling Institute (2022) Few Americans Like Resetting Clocks. Link

Rishi, M. A., Ahmed, O., Barrantes Perez, J. H., Berneking, M., Dombrowsky, J., Flynn-Evans, E. E., … & Gurubhagavatula, I. (2020). Daylight saving time: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine position statement. Journal of clinical sleep medicine, 16(10), 1781-1784. Link

Roenneberg, T., Wirz-Justice, A., Skene, D. J., Ancoli-Israel, S., Wright, K. P., Dijk, D. J., … & Klerman, E. B. (2019). Why should we abolish daylight saving time?. Journal of biological rhythms, 34(3), 227-230. Link

Roenneberg, T., Winnebeck, E. C., & Klerman, E. B. (2019). Daylight saving time and artificial time zones–a battle between biological and social times. Frontiers in Physiology, 944. Link

Sládek, M., Kudrnáčová Röschová, M., Adámková, V., Hamplová, D., & Sumová, A. (2020). Chronotype assessment via a large scale socio-demographic survey favours yearlong Standard time over Daylight Saving Time in central Europe. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-18. Link

Barnes, C. M., & Wagner, D. T. (2009). Changing to daylight saving time cuts into sleep and increases workplace injuries. Journal of applied psychology, 94(5), 1305. Link

Ferguson, S. A., Preusser, D. F., Lund, A. K., Zador, P. L., & Ulmer, R. G. (1995). Daylight saving time and motor vehicle crashes: the reduction in pedestrian and vehicle occupant fatalities. American Journal of Public Health, 85(1), 92-95. Link

e Cruz, M. M., Miyazawa, M., Manfredini, R., Cardinali, D., Madrid, J. A., Reiter, R., … & Acuña-Castroviejo, D. (2019). Impact of Daylight Saving Time on circadian timing system: An expert statement. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 60, 1-3. Link