Not long now till the clocks go back
Tomorrow morning, Sunday October 30, at 2am the clocks are set to go back one hour as winter time comes into effect. For many, the change will mean an extra hour in bed, while the evenings will get darker at earlier times.
In a few countries Daylight Saving Time (DST) has become a political power struggle, while others debate whether setting the clocks one hour ahead in the spring has the intended effect of conserving energy or reducing road accidents.
Ever since the very first time DST was introduced in Germany in 1916, during World War I, people have disagreed about whether setting the clocks one hour forward in the spring, and back again in the fall, has the desired effect.
Over 70 countries use DST today, mainly to:
- Make better use of natural daylight. & conserve energy otherwise spent on artificial light.
Great ~ but that was a century ago. Recent studies point out that, at best, DST might reduce electricity usage by 1% during March and April. Other estimates, by the National Bureau of Standards, suggest it has zero effect.
- Decrease road accidents by making sure roads are naturally lit during the hours with most traffic.
But Some studies show that it makes no difference, others suggest a 0.7 per cent reduction in traffic fatalities during DST. When the data’s that limited, it’s not enough to base a decision on.
- Make us healthier
It’s true that DST does provide extra daylight in the evening, and that it may bring with it increased physical activity and reduced incidence of depression. But there is plenty of evidence that changing the clocks by an hour can have a detrimental effect on our health.
Clock shifts disrupt our circadian rhythms. Studies have shown that, around the times of the spring clock changes, there are spikes in suicide rates and an increase in the number of recorded heart attacks. In fact, when Kazakhstan ditched DST in 2005, it cited health reasons. Sure, it might make you go for an extra jog or two every year, but it might also help contribute to a heart attack. I know which I’d prefer.