As winter draws near, we’re already starting to experience shorter daylight hours and soon Canadians will be plunged into even more darkness for another four months.
Daylight saving time 2023 will come to an end on Nov. 5, so consider this a sign and set an alert so you don’t forget to adjust your clock back one hour when the time comes.
Canadians in most time zones can “fall back” on Saturday, Nov. 4 this year before they head to bed, as the clocks roll back in the wee morning hours of Nov. 5 while most people are sleeping.
However, The Yukon, most of Saskatchewan and some parts of British Columbia and Quebec stay on standard time.
Your digital and wifi-connected devices should make the switch automatically, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check them the morning of Nov. 5, just to be sure.
The changing of the clocks has been a topic of debate in Canada for many years, with provincial politicians in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario wanting to scrap the century-old practice.
Ontario tabled and unanimously passed a private member’s bill called the Time Amendment Act in 2020. It’s waiting for New York and Quebec to get on board, as the areas share trade.
The B.C. legislature passed similar legislation in 2019, but the process has been delayed, as American states in the same time zone wait for California to pull the trigger.
Alberta had a referendum on the idea in 2021, and just over half of those who voted wanted to keep daylight saving time.
Daylight saving time was first proposed in 1895 by New Zealand entomologist George Hudson. He proposed the change because it would allow him more daylight hours to find and inspect insects.
The first documented cases of daylight saving being adopted in the world happened right here in Canada. The small towns of Port Arthur and Fort William — which would eventually merge to become Thunder Bay, Ont. — adopted daylight saving on May 1, 1908.
One resident, John Hewitson, wanted to give working folk an extra hour of daylight for after-work leisure activities.
Several years later, the German Empire and Austria-Hungary were the first international countries to enact daylight saving time in 1916, as a way to save coal and fuel during the First World War.
The idea behind the clock shift is to maximize sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere, as days start to lengthen in the spring and then wane in the fall. The logic is that by springing forward and falling back, people add an hour of sunlight to the end of the workday. But the benefits of this change are controversial, and the shift can have measurable impacts on health.
Doctors from the University of Turku in Finland have suggested that the risk of strokes and heart attacks increases by seven per cent following the time change.
In addition, the number of car crashes also tends to increase once we make the time shift. (A study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported there was an eight-per cent jump in car crashes the day after a time change.)
Canadian researchers warn that daylight saving, and switching the clocks twice a year, can contribute to a phenomenon known as “social jet lag,” where people suffer from disrupted sleep and sleep debt, mental and physical fatigue, metabolism issues and more.
And while experts agree that the change in the springtime hits us harder, there are also downsides to the change that will come in a few short weeks.
With less evening light and shortened days, there is a tendency to be less active in the evening, Wendy Hall, a B.C. nurse and professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, told Global News in 2021.
The return to standard time in the fall has also been linked to depression and seasonal affective disorder, where people often feel more depressed because of shorter exposure to daylight, Hall said.
— With files from Global News’ Kevin Neilsen, Saba Aziz and Ahmar Khan