FunDoes the time change harm your health?

Does the time change harm your health?

In the early morning of the last Sunday in October , in a large part of the countries of the northern hemisphere, the transition from so-called summer time to winter time takes place . Clocks across Europe are set back one hour according to the Community Directive on Time Change. This custom was mandatory in European countries since 1974 , when they decided to apply this change in order to make better use of sunlight and save on electricity consumption . The oil crisis of the previous year made governments begin to consider these types of measures to reduce consumption and limit their dependence on exporting countries.

Although this time change is beneficial because it dawns earlier and thus produces an energy saving of around 300 million euros according to the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving, it also implies that it gets dark earlier. These abrupt changes affect the human body in ways that at first glance seem unrelated. People who are predisposed to anxiety or depression intensify this state in the shortest and gray days , as pointed out by a study published in the ‘ British Medical Journal’ that compared this situation with the effect of the long and brighter months of summer. .

In addition, the study led by Mayer Hillman also argued that clocks should not be delayed because this contributes to reducing the time available for outdoor activities. The data shows that, specifically, eliminating the time change would provide approximately “ 300 additional hours of daylight for adults and about 200 for children each year”. The time change is also usually related to a higher frequency of traffic accidents, causes sleep disturbances by affecting the circadian rhythm and increases the feeling of fatigue, irritability or mood changes. Many experts often consider that these types of changes in the schedule cause a little jet lag in people.

The end of the time change in 2021?

Practically since its inception, the transition from summer to winter time and vice versa has been an issue on which to debate and in which the positions used to not give ground. Popularly, the argument best known and used by those who were in favor of the time change was that of the energy saving that it entailed. However, it has been a long time since the fearful years after the oil crisis and consumption is no longer so tied to the hours of sunshine. People have changed their habits and ways of consuming, so it is currently questioned whether this is still a valid argument.

Based on numerous scientific studies indicating the negative effects of the time change on human health and a series of concerns expressed by citizens in various initiatives, in February 2018 the European Parliament published a resolution urging the Commission to conduct a “comprehensive assessment of the current directive on daylight saving time arrangements.” A public consultation was held, the results of which indicated that an overwhelming majority of the population was in favor of the abolition of the seasonal time change. For the proposal to have legal effect, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament have to reach an agreement.

In March 2019, the European Parliament adopted its position on the Commission’s proposal, supporting the end of time changes by 2021 . The Council, for its part, has not yet determined its position. If this measure is adopted, each country will have to decide whether to stick with winter or summer time. Countries that want to stick with winter time would change their time clocks for the last time in October 2021.

The main stumbling block for this proposal to be approved is that, if some countries stick with one schedule and others with the other, these differences could affect the functioning of the European Union’s single market.

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