October 31, 2015 - 8:00 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - We are already a sleep deprived society so why do the powers-that-be insist on making us 'spring forward' or 'fall back', calling it Daylight Saving Time.
In the spring, for those of us who remember to set their clocks ahead, we effectively remove an hour of precious sleep and shorten the equally precious weekend. The rest of us will be late for work on Monday. In the fall, we set the clocks back an hour, 'gaining' an extra hour of sleep but leaving us with less daylight hours after work.
It begs the question why.
UBC professor and former director of the Human Neuropsychology and Perception Laboratory Stanley Coren has written a book about Daylight Light Saving time called Sleep Thieves.
Coren postulates we already live in a sleep-deprived society and says very bad things happen when chronic sleep deprivation is an issue.
In Canada, there is a five to seven per cent increase in fatal accidents in the three days after we spring forward.
Coren advises us to go to bed earlier on the day of the change to avoid the zombie-like effect of sleep deprivation.
Here are some excerpts for professor Coren’s book about the origins and reasons for Daylight Saving Time and why we continue to use it:
Why do we have Daylight Saving Time?
The original suggestion for Daylight Saving Time came from Benjamin Franklin. He suggested that if time was adjusted so that work hours were centred during daylight, people could save money on candle wax, which was expensive. Nothing happened, however, until the First World War when resources were being taxed due to the war effort and items like oil were at a premium.
Daylight Saving Time was introduced to save resources. Some countries switched the time back after the war, but when the Second World War arose there was pressure again on resources and Daylight Saving Time was reintroduced. Since then it has been adjusted and extended to optimize daylight hours.
Should we continue to use Daylight Saving Time?
There are two reasons why society continues to use Daylight Saving Time. First of all, there are energy savings across the country. The second reason is that Daylight Saving Time actually saves lives. People die during the period directly following the spring shift, but the data on traffic accidents show that accidents occur much more often during the dark or lower illumination than during daylight hours.
Over the time that Daylight Saving Time is in effect people get up and return home while the highways are brighter. This occurs over a period of months, so although Daylight Saving Time causes an initial hazard, in the end there is a life-saving benefit. There is nothing that comes without its cost, and in this case the cost of saving lives in the long-term is losing lives in the short-term.
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