Sleep experts say its important to prepare for the time change. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

‘Spring forward’ can hit already sleep-deprived Canadians hard

Health experts recommend preparing for daylight saving time

As British Columbians prepare to adjust the clocks, health experts advise adjusting sleep patterns too.

“[An hour] is not that much,” said Dr. Julie Carrier, a Canadian Institute of Health researcher and scientific director of the Sleep On It campaign. “It happens in our life all the time but that’s exactly the problem.”

Carrier said Canadians are chronically sleep deprived, and losing another hour could impact emotional, cognitive and physical well being.

“They will need to wake up an hour earlier for work on the Monday,” she said. “It can have a profound impact on plenty of functions.”

READ ALSO: Tips to prepare for and adjust faster to this weekend’s time change

Carrier suggests preparing in advance by going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night in the week leading up to the ‘spring forward.’

“Start now – tonight,” she said. “Go to bed a little bit earlier … each night to be fully adapted when the time change arrives.”

But Carrier suggests that Canadians’ long-term sleep deprivation – particularly that of young people – is what really puts the population’s health at risk.

“The young are even almost proud of this – it’s a sign of productivity, a sign of having a full life,” she said. “Even though when you’re young you can override the impacts of sleep deprivation, in the long-term you are decreasing your odds of having good health.”

READ ALSO: B.C. set to change law to stick with daylight saving time

Carrier also notes that about one quarter of Canadians suffer from a chronic sleep condition.

“Tell me how you sleep now and I will be able to tell you what your physical, cognitive and emotional health will be in the future,” she said.

Daylight saving time starts March 8 with time ‘springing ahead’ an hour in an effort to conserve evening sunshine. The time change comes during ongoing controversy of its usefulness, with politicians bouncing around the concept of eliminating daylight saving time altogether.

Premier John Horgan has promised a bill to move to daylight saving but said no action on time change legislation would come before fall 2020.

For more information on sleep health, visit sleeponitcanada.ca.

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