Daylight Saving Time starts again this weekend, as most of Canada springs forward for 2019.
The time change happens Sunday at 2 a.m., when clocks move forward by one hour. So when you get up Sunday morning, make sure your clocks are changed.
Not all of Canada observes Daylight Saving Time though – notably most of Saskatchewan, Fort Nelson, Creston and the Peace River Regional District in B.C., don’t change their clocks. A few towns in Ontario and Quebec’s north shore also don’t do Daylight Saving.
Neither do most African and Asian countries, and the European Union is considering abandoning the practice by 2021 – with legislators likely voting on the proposal by the end of March.
Daylight Saving Time was first introduced over a century ago in order to conserve energy and save money, according to David Prerau, author of Seize the Daylight, a book that examines the history of the time change. Germany was the first country to implement it as a way to cut back on fuel costs during the First World War.
But Thunder Bay, Ont., was the first city to change its clocks – way back in 1908.
There’s not much evidence to suggest that Daylight Saving Time actually saves energy today though. Studies disagree on whether or not the time change saves money – often suggesting only a tiny advantage.
So is it worth it?
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“From a purely health perspective, we’re probably better off not having these shifts,” said Dr. Andrew Lim, a neuroscientist and sleep researcher at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.
Changing the time you wake up at affects your circadian clock – your internal biological rhythms, he said. This can have a whole host of effects on your system, including, according to one U.S. study, raising your risk of heart attack the Monday following the time change.
“People might be sleeping a little bit less putting the body under a bit of stress and that might result in a small increase in the incidence of heart attacks.”
“What happens is the shift in the biological clock actually lags a little bit,” he said. “It’s like a form of jet lag.”
Making the shift more gradual, rather than in a single day, might mitigate some of these effects, he said.
Daylight Saving Time also has economic consequences, said Lisa Kramer, professor of finance at the University of Toronto.
“Mondays are typically a rough day in stock markets,” she said. “We often see negative returns on Mondays in general but following Daylight Saving Time changes, we see even larger negative returns.”
Kramer’s research into markets in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Germany found that the dip in stock market returns on the Monday following Daylight Saving Time is two to five times larger than a typical Monday drop.
“On average, when you’re looking at the U.S., the single-day loss from this effect amounts to about $30 billion,” she said.
Moving away from Daylight Saving Time when many of our trading partners – notably the U.S. – are still using it is probably a bad idea though, she said. But if the EU and other countries abandon the practice, it could make even less sense to keep it.
– With files from Emanuela Campanella