LETHBRIDGE, AB – Time change: Is it good or bad?
Well, the topic was put to a province-wide referendum Monday night and although we won’t know the official results until next week, the question has garnered a lot of attention.
The provincial referendum question proposed to Albertans read like this: Do you want Alberta to adopt year-round Daylight Saving Time, which is summer hours, eliminating the need to change our clocks twice a year?
Dr. Rob McDonald is a neuroscience professor at the University of Lethbridge and has been studying the impacts of time change and circadian rhythms for years. He says there are many negatives for Alberta if we stay on permanent daylight time (DST).
“This is one of the scientific complications for Alberta,” says Dr. McDonald. “We are on the western edge of a time zone. Sunlight becomes ever later, an hour later (in the winter months) than someone who’s on the eastern side of the time zone. So it’s even worse for people in Alberta to go to daylight saving.”
In fact, McDonald calls staying on permanent DST the “worst” option for Alberta. He says having more darkness in the morning hours during winter can have all kinds of health impacts on people if our body clocks are misaligned.
For instance, with turning our clocks back each fall, the sun rises in Lethbridge on December 20th at around 8:30 am. Staying on year-round daylight time would mean the sun wouldn’t come up until 9:30 am instead during that time of year.
“When you’re ready to start waking up in the morning it’s still going to be dark out, but your body clock is telling you, you should still be sleeping. All of the things the (body) clock does is fundamental to all body and brain functions,” says McDonald.
McDonald says the best and healthiest of all the options is for Alberta to stay on standard time, which is technically the time once we turn our clocks back for the fall and winter. However, he points out that wasn’t even an option on the ballot.
Residents in Lethbridge were split with only about 51% saying yes to year-round daylight saving.
Again, the province-wide results won’t be released until October 26.