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Stop the changing of the clocks!

Greg Devine


Clock with Christmas Mittens

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Being a student often means late nights. Most of my lectures are in the afternoon and I’m quite a night owl, so it’s worked out nicely for me. The issue I have now it’s winter is a lack of sunlight.

Sunlight is vital for the human body. Vitamin D is needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Without vitamin D, there’s an increased chance of bone deformities, such as rickets, in children or in adults; this can lead to bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia. The government actually recommends we take vitamin D supplements during the winter, due to the lack of natural sunlight.

Skeleton in a bed
Sunlight is good for the Bones

My question is, if a lack of sunlight is detrimental to our health, is the daylight-saving tradition still a good idea? At 4pm, it’s practically pitch black now, more so the further north you go. I don’t tend to wake up much earlier than 10am whilst at university, then I spend all day indoors during lectures and studying. This, quite simply, isn’t healthy. Sure, taking supplements will help, but a natural approach is surely better.

According to the NHS, between October and early March our bodies cannot make enough vitamin D on their own, due to this lack of exposure to sunlight. Only some foods contain vitamin D, which creates an even bigger issue. The foods you should eat include oily fish, like salmon or mackerel. You can also get vitamin D from red meat and egg yolks. Given that plant-based diets are hailed as the healthiest option, this doesn’t seem very safe. 

Supplements are clearly needed. The NHS recommends taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily during the autumn and winter. During summer and spring, you should be able to create enough through sun exposure. If you have darker skin, you might not even make enough during summer in the UK.

This doesn’t mean you should take loads of vitamin D supplements. Whilst you can’t overdose on sunlight (well, your skin can, obviously), too much vitamin D can lead to a build-up of calcium in the body. This could cause your bones to weaken, and it can also affect the kidneys and your heart, so always take your doctor’s advice. 

Going back to my original point, what use is the daylight-saving clock change process nowadays? I know it was introduced to maximise farmers’ productivity at harvest time, but modern tractors have headlights and farmyards can easily be lit with floodlights. All the clock change does is increase our chances of getting ill. It’s also not great for your mental health, never seeing sunlight. The only time I really see it now is walking to lectures. By the time I’ve finished, I’m walking back to my digs in the dark. The only light I really see is artificial. You may suggest that us students should just get up earlier, but that means going to bed earlier. If I go to bed earlier, I won’t get as much work done and I’ll fall behind on my degree. 

If there’s no longer a good reason to change the clocks, why bother? Let’s just scrap it—we’ll all be healthier, both physically and mentally.

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