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Is It Time to Ditch the Daylight Saving Time Switch?

FRIDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Not turning the clocks back an hour in the fall would offer a simple way to improve people's health and well-being, according to an English expert.

Keeping the time the same would increase the number of "accessible" daylight hours during the fall and winter and encourage more outdoor physical activity, according to Mayer Hillman, a senior fellow emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute in London.

He estimated that eliminating the time change would provide "about 300 additional hours of daylight for adults each year and 200 more for children."

Previous research has shown that people feel happier, more energetic and have lower rates of illness in the longer and brighter days of summer, while people's moods tend to decline during the shorter, duller days of winter, Hillman explained in his report, published online Oct. 29 in BMJ.

This proposal "is an effective, practical and remarkably easily managed way of achieving a better alignment of our waking hours with the available daylight during the year," he pointed out in a news release from the journal's publisher.

Another expert, Dr. Robert E. Graham, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that he totally agrees with Hillman's conclusions.

"Lessons learned by the explosion of research on the benefits of vitamin D add to the argument for 'not putting the clocks back.' Basic biochemistry has proved to us that sunlight helps your body convert a form of cholesterol that is present in your skin into vitamin D. Additionally, several epidemiological studies have documented the seasonality of depression and other mood disorders," Graham stated.

"As a society we are always looking for 'accessible, low cost, little-to-no harm interventions.' By increasing the number of 'accessible' daylight hours we may have found the perfect intervention, definitely a 'bright' idea to consider," he added.

More information

The shorter days of fall and winter can cause some people to develop seasonal affective disorder.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCES: BMJ, news release, Oct. 28, 2010; Robert E. Graham, M.D., M.P.H., internist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City

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