herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Turning back clocks is bad for our health

The clocks go back this weekend, but that extra hour in bed may actually be bad for you.

Doctors are arguing that to leave the clock as it is would extend the hours of daylight and improve everyone's health by allowing people to get out and do more exercise.

Children would have more daylight when they come home from school and could engage in outdoor activities for longer.



ENERGETIC

Even elderly people who are afraid to go out in the dark because of poorer vision and hearing and fear of attack would benefit from the extra hours of brightness with greater opportunities for leisure and social activities.

The argument in favour of leaving the clocks alone is being brought a step further in the British Medical Journal where Dr Mayer Hillman, of the Policy Studies Institute, suggests clocks should still go forward an hour in the spring.

Dr Hillman cites research showing people feel happier, more energetic and have lower sickness rates in the longer and brighter days of summer compared to the shorter days of winter.

"Adopting this proposal for a clock change is an effective, practical, and remarkably easily managed way to better align our waking hours with the available daylight during the year," he said.

He believes leaving the clock alone this weekend and moving it forward in the spring is a simple way to "vastly" improve the health of almost everyone in the population.

According to Dr Hillman, there is also strong public support for the clock change -- about four to one people in England and Wales would like to see the change while those in Scotland are evenly divided.

A campaign group calling themselves Lighter Later argues that road deaths could be cut and tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution could be cut because people would switch on their lights at a later hour.



DUSK

Crime could also be cut since a lot of opportunist break-ins happen just after dusk when people have not yet come home from work or school. A proposal by MPs in Britain is gathering cross-party support.

However, this weekend the clocks will still go back by an hour at 2am on Sunday.

csheehy@herald.ie

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