The European Commission has proposed that the seasonal switch between summer and winter time be abolished across the European Union, asking all member states to announce which time zone they intend to adopt on a permanent basis by April 2019.
Health concerns, in particular, have been cited as a reason for scrapping the so-called summertime arrangements.
Timo Partonen, a research professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), toldAamulehti on Friday that turning the clocks by an hour every spring and autumn disturbs the body’s internal clock, causing problems particularly for the sick and elderly.
“Many feel that changing the clock is easier in the autumn, as it provides an extra hour of time for mornings. In the spring, it takes a couple of days even for healthy people to adjust to the new sleep rhythm, but in the autumn the [adjustment] period is shorter,” he explained to the Tampere-based newspaper.
“Darker nights make it easier to fall asleep, while lighter mornings make you feel energised.”
Partonen added that everyone can observe how the transition has an effect on the quality of sleep and the circadian rhythm. The lack of good sleep, in turn, can predispose people to weight gain, increases in blood pressure and cortisol or so-called stress hormone levels, and impaired glucose tolerance.
The transitions place a burden particularly on the cardiovascular system.
“The effects of changing the clocks are individual. However, changing the clocks is problematic especially for people with sleep disorders. Turning the clocks even by an hour places a burden especially on the sick and elderly, because young people have a more flexible internal clock,” he told. “The change can create a social time difference in the spring for night owls, as they can’t get a grip on summer time.”
EU member states are currently set to switch from winter to summer time for the last time on Sunday, 31 March 2019. Member states that decide to adopt winter time permanently will then turn their clocks back by one hour on Sunday, 27 October 2019.
Aleksi Teivainen – HTSource: Uusi Suomi