Time change: bad for our health?

Time-change: bad for our health?

The time has come (again) to move the clocks forward! Quebecers will lose an hour of sleep overnight Saturday through Sunday as the province transitions to Eastern Daylight Time.

The changeover will take place at 2am, when it will actually be 3am. On this occasion, the Montreal Fire Department (SIM) invites citizens to ensure that their smoke alarms are working.

While many territories continue to practice this alternation between summer and winter time, its necessity is questioned. Particularly by sleep specialists who denounce deleterious effects on the body.

The biological clock disrupted

Experts agree that the time change causes a disruption of the biological clock. It is on this mechanism, also called circadian rhythm, that the balance of the human being is based. It is established according to the day/night cycle and regulates some of our physiological functions such as body temperature, hormonal changes or blood pressure. The biological clock also allows us to feel hunger and sleep.

Professor Emeritus at the Sleep Laboratory at the University of Ottawa Brain Research Institute, Joseph De Koninck , maintains that the transition to summer time has direct consequences on this cycle: “the change of time shifts the biological clock which must move forward by 60 minutes”, he underlines in an interview with Protect yourself.

According to specialists, a disruption of this cycle can lead to appetite disorders, sleep disorders or attention disorders as well as mood disorders.

“The time change is considered by some scientists to be even more harmful to health than the jet lag associated with changing time zones during travel”, notes the site Ooreka Santé.

Hormonal disturbances are also observed, particularly in the production of melatonin. This is the hormone that regulates the sleep/wake rhythm.

More difficult for the frail

The elderly, children and sick people are more likely to suffer from disorders caused by this needle dance than the rest of the population. Professor De Koninck believes that the elders “are in the front row”.

“Unlike children, who recover more easily, seniors' sleep is more fragile and their biological clock is less flexible,” he says. Insomniacs would be particularly affected and would experience an intensification of their symptoms in the nights following the time change.

In addition, several studies show that the risk of heart attacks and the number of cerebrovascular accidents (CVAs) increase after the time change.

Remember that this practice was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century, in order to be able to save electricity by taking full advantage of daylight. “To justify the transition to summer time, the economic advantages are often mentioned. But, ultimately, there are also a lot of negative health consequences, warns Joseph De Koninck. , 85 % of Canadians were opposed to daylight saving time. 

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