Whether you like or not, for over 100 years we have been changing our clocks to save on electricity bills. This century-old tradition was inspired by Benjamin Franklin, who argued that it would be possible to save electricity if citizens started waking up earlier to use daylight. However, there are many people who do not agree with this change.
In fact, this biannual desynchronization of our biological clocks has been linked to a greater health risk. But if most of us don't like the clock changing, it's not equally consensual which time citizens prefer throughout the year, whether it's standard time or daylight saving time. On the one hand, we find people who want the day to start earlier in the winter to get more energised in the morning. On the other, those who want to enjoy few more hours of sunlight in the late afternoon.
In this sense, the Portuguese Sleep Association, which has gave a contrary opinion to the daylight saving time (DST), considered standard time as a better option for the health of citizens.
Pros and cons of Daylight Saving
Regarding Daylight Savings benefits, the association recognised that the current situation offers more sunlight at the end of the day for leisure, commerce, tourism and local business.
As for the problems associated with changing from the new time to daylight saving time, experts distinguish two different types of consequences, in the short and long term.
In the short term, doctors explained that in the first few days after the spring time change, shorter sleep results in poorer work/school performance, as well as in higher frequency of car accidents and heart disease.
In the long run, it can increase the propensity for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases and reduced immunity, said the association.
In addition, the Portuguese Sleep Association believes that the clock change has many drawbacks such as the need to adjust the biological clock to the new time, as well as the need for a biannual change of all clocks, disruption of transport schedules, billing systems, registration and the need to update and restart many programs.
Daylight saving time
If daylight saving time were permanently adopted, the association warns that it would bring disadvantages such as:
- Long-term health and sleep problems;
- Workers, children and teenagers would go to workplaces and schools at night in the winter months;
- Increased number of traffic accidents due to the decrease in the morning light in the winter.
In the case of children and teenagers, it becomes more difficult to put children to sleep while it is still daylight. Worsening the tendency of teenagers to go to bed late (due to exposure to more light at the end of the day during the summer) and the consequent tendency to reduce night sleep during school days and increase compensations at the weekend.
However, it has positive aspects such as the fact that in the winter period you have the feeling that the day gets longer as there is another hour of sun in the afternoon as well as a greater alignment with the working hours of Central Europe.
On the other hand, experts point out that “more sunlight in the early morning during winter has more beneficial effects. For example, in the sleep-wake rhythm (due to greater alignment with the natural light-dark cycle), it is easier to fall asleep and wake up, reducing social jetlag”.
In addition, they stated that standard time is also good for better professional and academic performance, bringing benefits to mental health and reducing the risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and immunity problems. At the same time, it reduces the risk of accidents and can bring economic gains.
However, the winter time also has its drawbacks, such as the perception that the day gets shorter as there is less sun in the afternoon, which leads many people to go home earlier, enjoying their free time less and spending less money in local businesses. After all, don’t you still miss an hour of sunshine in the afternoon?