April 23rd, 2021

Letter: Late sunrise has negative impact

By Letter to the Editor on March 27, 2021.

Dear editor,

The delay of one hour for sunrise in the winter by staying on daylight savings time throughout the year would have at least three negative impacts.

First, the commute to school would be more dangerous as most commutes would now be done in darkness from about mid-November to mid-February. Snow, sleet and fog would add to the danger making it more difficult for drivers to see bundled up, cold, inattentive kids through frosted up windows walking to school or to a bus stop. Icy sidewalks and roads would be more difficult to navigate resulting in more falls. Transporting in a vehicle, whether driven by a parent or high school student, or a school bus, is also more dangerous, especially with unpredictable wildlife possibly bolting onto the road. Arriving at school is a concern as there is so much traffic with students arriving by vehicles or buses and some on foot. This particularly applies to high school student parking lots. Younger students arriving early typically use the playground, which would be more dangerous in the dark.

A second negative impact is delaying the energy boost from sunshine. Sunlight increases the amount of serotonin in the body, which is often referred to as the happy hormone. This gives children more energy to get up and out the door, making it easier for parents, but also puts them in a better frame of mind to start learning when morning classes begin. The earlier children are exposed to sunlight the better.

A third negative impact is on people’s energy and sleep/wake cycle. Many people would be waking up in darkness for the winter months. Research has found that waking up to daylight helps you wake up, can give you more energy through the day, and can establish a better sleep/wake cycle, which will help you fall asleep at night (Information from National Sleep Foundation).

Some point out an extra hour of daylight later in the day would give children the opportunity to play outside, but this is unlikely to happen to any degree for a number of reasons. First, kids don’t seem to play outside as much they use to, especially in winter weather. Second, the daylight would be during suppertime, and third, many kids take part in planned activities in the early evening.

Overall having early sunrise in winter is more beneficial than an extra hour daylight later in the day.

Denis Hoffman

Medicine Hat

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RobertMH
RobertMH
26 days ago

There have already been strides to address these concerns around keeping DST permanent:
1) School should start at the earliest 9AM, which would alleviate the requirement of driving in the dark; including giving students more time to sleep and eat breakfast. Research and test pilots projects are clear that a later start significantly improves student performance, among other positives. [Source]
2) This information is incorrect, the time change in both fall and spring disrupt the circadian rhythm causing reduced quality and/or duration of sleep, especially in younger children and the elderly [Source]; essentially the same symptoms as jet-lag. There is a good reason pediatricians recommend starting to adjust sleep schedules in advance of the change.
Once again, starting school later would remove this as an issue.
3) This is also incorrect. The time change disrupts the natural adaption of the body to the day/night cycle leading to workers being injured more often/severely [Source] and reduced productivity [Source]

In summary, a stable sleep schedule is more important than a slight increase in sunlight. Seasonal affective disorder is can be dealt with using better timed outdoor activity, and widely available light treatment when that is not feasible [Source]. If you want further proof, there are high latitude locations without time-change adherence and do not encounter most of the issues listed.

On a personal level, I’ve been working in this province for over 35 years and have never heard co-workers looking forward to the fall time changes, but numerous and consistent complaints pre/post-change for the Spring. The sunrise is given to one part of the year at the cost of darkness in the other, and we pay the toll both ways.

lucky13
lucky13
26 days ago
Reply to  RobertMH

“There are three kinds of lieslies, damned lies, and statistics.”; it was popularized in the United States by Mark Twain .

Last edited 26 days ago by lucky13
lucky13
lucky13
26 days ago

“There are three kinds of lieslies, damned lies, and statistics.”; it was popularized in the United States by Mark Twain 

D Hoffman
D Hoffman
25 days ago

Regarding the first comment by RobertMH on starting school at 9 a.m. In my past research on daylight savings time I have come across information suggesting starting school later in the morning and I would agree there are benefits. These benefits would be significantly increased if we were on daylight savings time in the winter. However, changing school start times may not be easy as I am sure there are a number of sides to this issue and a number of different groups would have to be engaged. I would encourage RobertMH to write a letter to the NEWS on this issue to inform more people. If the switch to permanent daylight savings would be contingent on starting school later that would be a positive.