Daylight Saving Time not saving student health

A permanent Daylight Saving Time would increase negative health and safety risks in young people

Two women studying together in the Langara library. Photo by Kristen Holliday
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Reported by Kristen Holliday

Changing the clocks for daylight saving time affects students’ health and wellbeing, yet moving to permanent Daylight Saving Time will have more serious implications, according to SFU psychology professor and sleep specialist Ralph Mistlberger.

Clocks will turn back an hour to Standard Time on Nov. 3, but the B.C. government is reconsidering the bi-annual practice.

Each March, the clocks are moved forward to Daylight Saving Time to gain more evening light in the spring and summer months; it also means shorter mornings. Clocks are then turned back to Standard Time in autumn.

Changing the clocks between Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time is an old practice

Daylight is a powerful regulator for the internal clock, which controls hormone levels and affects many other aspects of our lives, says Mistlberger.

“You will see negative health and safety consequences if we go to permanent Daylight Saving Time, and we’re actually going to see it more in young people,” said Mistlberger.

“The earlier you wake students up relative to the internal clock, the worse off they’re going to be. Their ability to pay attention, to process information, working memory, all those things are going to be worse,”

But, Michael Paulyn, a fourth-year business and marketing student at Langara College, is one of the many students that want permanent Daylight Saving Time.

Permanent Daylight Saving Time offsets young people’s internal clocks

“You’re more up to enjoy 9 p.m. in the summer,” said Paulyn. “The enjoyment level is much higher in the summer and partially spring and fall, so I’d rather keep it to that.”

Results of a recent government survey says 93 per cent of B.C. residents, and 86.6 per cent of students, support a move to permanent Daylight Saving Time.

Gabriella Carvallo, a first-year marketing management student at Langara, likes the current system where the clocks move forward in the Spring.

“We have one extra hour of sun to enjoy after work,” Carvallo said. “I could use that hour. I would like that to stay.”

Update, The B.C. government has introduced a bill that will move B.C. to permanent daylight savings time starting in 2020.

Photo gallery by Kristen Holliday

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