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This Is How The Time Change Affects Health

At dawn from Saturday to Sunday, this past October 31, at 3 it was 2 . As every year, the Spanish delay the clock hand to enter winter time .

Winter time change meme.
Although it has been shown that the effects on energy saving are minimal , those that occur in our body are much more notable .

What does the time change cause us?
Although the time delay on the last weekend of October is the most unpopular because we lose an hour of light, it really is the lightest in terms of effects .

María José Martínez , coordinator of the chronobiology working group of the Spanish Sleep Society (SES), explains at 20Minutos that “the winter time change is not the one that affects us the most , because it gives us one more hour.”

This is explained because “the biological clock of the human being does not have 24 hours, but 24.5. It always costs us less to get used to being given an hour to take it away from us “. “In any case, it takes us out of our routine,” he adds.

The expert specifies that, in chronobiology, it is said that three habits are needed to maintain good sleep hygiene: synchronization, contrast and regularity . “With the time change, regularity is going to ruin us because, for example, we eat at a time when we are not used to it.”

María José says that the effect is similar to that of ‘social jet lag’ , between days off and work days, in which our time to eat or go to bed and wake up changes. “This time change does this a bit, it throws us out of our routine. For each hour changed we need about five days of adaptation .”

Traffic accidents, heart attacks … The fine print of the time change
María José explains that, “while we adjust, there are usually problems such as drowsiness during the day if we have not slept well . This is because we will get sleepy an hour earlier than we are used to, and the same in the morning.”

This drowsiness is one of the reasons why, for example, traffic accidents increase during the days after the time change. According to a study that analyzes traffic accidents in Spain from 1990 to 2014, it can be concluded that on days of time change, they increase.

According to the study, an average of 6.5 deaths per year can be attributed : 23 for the spring change and 14 for the fall change . “Occupational accidents, traffic … increase a lot due to daytime sleepiness during the first week of adaptation, ” confirms María José.

This is also due to the fact that time changes always occur on weekends , which is why weekend trips are added together with alcohol consumption , enhancing claims.

Regarding heart attacks, according to a study by the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences (ERMPS), the studies available and carried out so far show “the association between the change in time and a modest increase in myocardial infarctions, but only for the spring one “.

Time changes affect the elderly and children more , “since they have a less robust circadian system, and it will always cost them more to adapt,” explains the expert.

What to do to avoid the effects?
María José advocates that, the week before the time change , we modify the times of meals and going to bed and getting up for 10 or 15 minutes each day . “Thus, when the time comes, it will cost us less,” he argues.

The Cinfa pharmaceutical company also gives, on its website, some tips to try to alleviate these effects. One of them would be to practice moderate physical exercise , moderate the consumption of stimulant drinks or not take medication to sleep .

The winter time, the preferred by the experts
María José is aware that the official position of the Spanish Sleep Society, which she shares, is the least popular . They advocate that the time change disappears and, in addition, we definitively establish ourselves in winter time .

“There are many people who want to have more light , for example at the tourism level , but you have to think that between the Balearic Islands and A Coruña there is almost an hour difference. With summer time, in winter, in A Coruña we would be at work and it would continue to be night, “argues María José. And it is that, in the westernmost Galicia, it would dawn at 10 in the morning .

The expert emphasizes this fact because, she assures, “it is important to receive intense light in the morning to activate ourselves . At a circadian level, it would be much better to stay in the winter time”, sentence.

María José recalls that, on the Greenwich meridian, “it would correspond to us two hours less than what we have in summer, which would be a huge social and customs impact “.

He assures that, despite the fact that “we would get used to it, we would be against what our biological clock demands . At the level of savings, it does not mean anything significant. That is why we advocate not changing the time and always being in winter time”.

The future of time change
It is the European Union (EU) that forces countries to change the time twice a year, since 2000, through a mandatory community directive . This directive specifies that “it is important for the functioning of the internal market to continue to set a common date and time for the beginning and end of the summer time period applicable throughout the Community”.

But in the summer of 2018 , the European Commission made a non-binding consultation in which they asked the population if they would find it interesting to stay with summer time all year .

Countries with less sunlight voted en masse . The result was an 80% vote in favor of not making the time change in October . That is, stay forever in summer time. But this was never applied, in the absence of consensus between the different states.

Last 2020 it was raised again to stop changing the time , but with the arrival of the pandemic, the debate was stalled. For this reason, 2021 will not be the last year in which we change the time.

Maria José assures that it is not clear if it will end up changing. But he does believe that “it is not an issue for everyone to decide what they can do, the well-being and health of the majority of the population should prevail ,” he concludes.

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