Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Daily fall forecasts and weather facts from Cindy Day
SaltWire Dinner Party: A night in Mexico
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19: October 23, 2020
SaltWire's cartoonists bring heart and humour to the news.
Daylight Saving Time — the time of year when most places roll the clock back or forward an hour to try to preserve some sunlight – has marked time every fall and spring for more than 100 years. But does the time change have a point in 2020?
According to research by Erin Blackmore of National Geographic, the idea was first coined 125 years ago, in 1895, by New Zealand entomologist George Hudson. His reasoning? He wanted more time after work hours to go looking for bugs.
Canada implemented daylight saving time in 1908. Today, however, less than 40 per cent of countries across the world follow the practice.
Ruth Gardner, 59, doesn’t mind having to deal with pushing her clock back or forward an hour, depending on the time of year.
“I don’t mind it. The only thing I don’t like about it is it’s darker when you wake up. Initially, it’s an adjustment, but other than that I don’t really care,” said the St. John’s, NL woman.
Although she does understand why it was implemented, in 2020, she’s not sure if it makes as big of a difference to people.
“From what I understand, the reason for it first coming in was that it would supposedly help in the interim period so there would be more daylight hours during our normal waking hours,” said Gardner. “But I don’t know if that makes a difference to people anymore.”
To help with the initial time change, Gardner changes her clocks earlier in the day instead of right before going to bed, which seems to help her adjust.
“I tend to put the clock forward or back earlier in the day, I don’t wait until I go to bed. The day prior to the change, at midnight, I'll just change my schedule earlier in the day if I'm able to, and that way, I more or less adjust during the day," said Gardner.
The only time it has truly affected Gardner was when she was a nurse at The Grace Hospital in St. John’s.
“When I was working twelve-hour shifts … and if you happen to be working during that day, then you ended up coming in a half-hour earlier or leaving a half-hour earlier, depending if it was spring or fall,” said Gardner.
It likely means more to people who are living further south, where there’s more daylight in general, she acknowledges.
“If I was further south, maybe it would be more noticeable because the change wouldn’t be as dramatic and you wouldn’t be spending as many hours in the dark anyway. But, for us here, it's just that initial phase that’s a shock,” said Gardner.
“Our fall is our best season in St. John’s by far, and we can still have nice weather into November. When daylight savings comes into effect, it does give you a bit of a longer window to enjoy some outdoor activities, but because we are north, eventually that window closes anyways.”
The Saskatchewan case
Saskatchewan has already ditched Daylight Saving Time – a move that province made back in 1959 - and dealing with that change when visiting neighbouring provinces that still make the switch every fall and spring is a pain, says Tamara Link from Saskatoon.
Link, 28, lived in Alberta from September 2016 until June 2019 and says Daylight Saving Time was more hassle than it was worth. Normally, both provinces are in the same Central Time Zone.
“I found daylight savings to be actually quite confusing. Especially when trying to communicate between provinces,” said Link. “For example, if I called my parents at 9 p.m. Alberta time it would be 10 p.m. in Saskatchewan. I normally work evenings, so this happened often.”
It also made it confusing if a person forgot to switch their clock initially and then tried getting to work or an appointment on time, said Link.
Since Saskatchewan and Alberta are geographically similar, this also made it confusing when driving home for visits, Link said.
Growing up, Link never really thought about the days getting longer or shorter.
“I remember as a kid, getting off the school bus and it was starting to get dark around 4 p.m. in the winter months,” said Link. “I didn't mind this because I knew this gave me more time to play outside in the summer months. You have to learn to adapt to change - lots of people get winter depression with or without daylight savings.”
Have you noticed people are irritable in the first few days after the time changes? According to Hassan Khalili of H. Khalili, Ph.D. and Associates in St. John’s, NL, this is common.
“Melatonin is what manages sleep,” said Khalili “So, when there is less light, you cannot produce enough melatonin, so your sleep becomes interrupted. Melatonin is the cousin of serotonin, (and it) borrows from serotonin. When there isn’t enough the body becomes anxious.”
Since people are not producing enough serotonin, it’s more likely they will feel anxious or depressed.
“There are some people who are more vulnerable to it. Their mood will be lower, so their activity becomes lower, and so they become depressed,” said Khalili.
To combat this in the darker winter months, many people will try to take a vacation or take Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, such as Prozac or Zoloft. However, Khalili recommends doing simple things first, such as sitting beside a lamp for even an hour, as then you are still getting a form of light.
This year, Daylight Saving Time is set to end at 2 a.m. on Nov. 1, when the clocks will fall back an hour.