Sputnik: How is our health impacted by the clocks changing?
Gisela Helfer: Well, our body has an internal biological clock and that clock basically tells the body when to sleep, when to eat, so all of our physiological functions are regulated by this clock. And every time when we change this clock artificially it impacts our body. And we know that any disruption of our own biological clock can lead to quite severe health risks. So we know that heart attacks go up, we know that strokes go up. So the weeks after the clock changes, we find more incidences of quite severe diseases, but also, the risks of workplace accidents go up. There was a recent study done after the clock change in March that showed that there was a 6% increase in fatal car accidents. And the reason for this is that when we artificially disrupt our clock, our body clock, the body takes me some time to adjust to this again. And other examples for disruption of clocks would be, for example, shift work, or most of your listeners will have experienced jet lag when you fly from one place to another. And this is when your clock goes completely out of synchrony and it takes some time until the body comes back to synchrony again.
Sputnik: What can we do to help our bodies adjust better to the new timing?
Gisela Helfer: So the best thing to do is morning sunlight, that's the best thing you should do. Morning sunlight has a really strong effect on our internal biological clock. So in the morning, your body does quite a lot of physiological functions before you even wake up. So the sleep hormone melatonin will be shut off and instead, the hormone cortisol, which is really important will be released. And when we get a lot of morning sunlight, then we are very active in the morning and then over the day, we get a bit more tired and then it has less impact on our sleep so morning sunlight is the most important thing. Other things you can do is have a really strong routine. So despite changing the clock stick to your sleep times, in particular, the morning sleep and this is more severe in the spring clock change but even if you are still tired in the morning, still get up and then it takes the body less time to adjust. And with regular sleep time, you also should have very regular eating times when you eat.
Sputnik: Do you think daylight savings should be abolished?
Gisela Helfer: Absolutely, it should definitely go. The research is really strong that it has a negative impact on the population. It depends a little bit where people live, but especially your listeners in Scotland will be massively impacted by the clock change. If people live further south or by the equator where the sunlight is very regular and when you don't have such strong differences between summer and winter, you know the impact is not as bad. But particularly if you live in the north it's very, very bad. So the EU had a vote in 2019 that they would abolish the clock changes throughout Europe and most of the member states have voted in favour of stopping it. But it is up to each member state whether they use the basically the wintertime the standard time or the summertime. And research has shown that the standard time is actually the better one for people because that is where the sun time is closest to our social time. So when we work, when we go to you know to go to school, when we socialise so that is most closely adjusted to our sun time and this is the time that we should actually adopt.
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