Flip the switch on daylight savings time

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I’ve always hated daylight savings time and in my books, it’s high time for DST to be put to sleep, peacefully – and permanently. So I support the recent discussions from MLAs Richard Starke and Thomas Dang about a bill to repeal this annoying practice.

Having grown up in Saskatchewan, I grew used to time going along like it is meant to do, with no springing forward and falling back like some lame version of Back to the Future, where Marty McFly would only experience some mild sense of disorientation and wondering just how many hours it would be before he and Jennifer could put the kids to bed.

Since moving to Alberta, I moan about the changing clocks every year, twice a year. But it wasn’t until recently that I learned that there is actual scientific evidence to show that the time change is not just a pain in my butt, but at best, simply a waste of time that doesn’t mean much in the way of energy savings, and at worst, that it is a risk to our health and well-being.

Studies have shown that people’s productivity and attention to the job at hand decreases the Monday after the time change. For those of us at desk jobs, maybe that means just a little extra time wasted surfing eBay or on Facebook (“But really, I’m doing research!”). For those in more dangerous fields, like mining, the time change saw a nearly six per cent uptick in workplace accidents/injuries immediately after. Less sleep and less attentiveness in the wake of DST has also been linked to more collisions on the roads in spring, and more risk to pedestrians in the fall.

Changing your body’s natural rhythms by changing sleep patterns not only messes with your mind, but also can increase your risk of health afflictions. Studies have shown an increase in the risk of heart attack (10 per cent) and stroke (eight per cent) in the first couple of days after the spring time change.

There’s no consensus on if it would be better to move to Central Time or Mountain Standard Time, but given our close ties to Saskatchewan and Lloydminster as a border city (and the fact that nearly half of us are secretly Riders fans), it would seem to me to make sense to go to Central Time.

Such a move has its own drawbacks, though. I remember one American professor of mine, who had moved to Saskatoon to teach, moaning in the dark depths of December, “I woke up this morning, and waited for the bus at nine a.m., in -20 degrees Celsius – in the snow and darkness. And I thought, – ‘What the hell am I doing here?’”

But the short days of winter are a buzz kill, any way you slice it. This time of year is celebrated across many different cultures and countries, marking the winter solstice and the beginning of longer daylight hours. While I’m eager to give DST the boot, if legislators decide the question should go to a referendum during the next provincial election, that would be fair enough. For now, I’m happy enough to look forward to the lengthening days of sunshine as the earth tilts back on its axis in the beckoning days of spring ahead.

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