What do Canadians think about Daylight Saving Time?

It’s that time of year again: for most Canadians, Daylight Saving Time will start on March 8, 2020.

While the switch to Daylight Saving Time in March every year has some advantages (including an extra hour of light in the evening), it also has some disadvantages (such as fumbling around in the dark for the snooze button on your alarm the first day after losing an hour of sleep…okay, and maybe some of the following days too!).

man yawning

via Giphy

In at least a few provinces, the government or politicians have surveyed (or planned to survey) the public about whether the seasonal practice of changing clocks in March (to begin Daylight Saving Time) and in November (to return to standard time) should be abolished.1

With this in mind, we recently asked Canadians to tell us how Daylight Saving Time (not “Daylight Savings”!) impacts them, and whether or not they’d like to see permanent time – whether Standard or Daylight Saving – adopted.

Canadians aren’t really preparing themselves for Daylight Saving Time in advance, although one-third of those with child(ren) are preparing their kids.

unprepared person

via Giphy

We asked Canadians who live in areas that observe Daylight Saving Time whether they take steps in advance to prepare themselves for Daylight Saving Time… and only 15% indicate that they do, whether by going to bed earlier in advance (9%), waking up earlier in advance (5%), or doing something else to prepare (2%).

The older you are, the less likely you are to prepare in advance: the proportion who mention they don’t take any steps to prepare themselves trends upward with increasing age (72% among those aged 18-34, 85% among those aged 35-54, 93% among those aged 55+). Those without children are more likely to indicate they don’t prepare (88%), compared to those with children (75%).

One-third (34%) of Canadians who live in areas that observe Daylight Saving Time and have children indicate they prepare their children for Daylight Saving Time, whether by putting their child(ren) to bed earlier in advance (24%), waking them up earlier in advance (10%), or something else (5%).

Switching to Daylight Saving Time seems to either be good for one’s mood, or not make a difference.

person thinking

via Giphy

Given that switching back to standard time in November can negatively impact those who suffer from seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD)2, we asked Canadians living in areas that observe Daylight Saving Time whether they notice an impact on their mood when the clocks move forward an hour in March.

An identical proportion indicate their mood improves (43%) or stays the same (43%), while one-in-ten (11%) indicate that their mood worsens.

Among them, regionally, Quebecers are most likely to indicate their mood improves (52%) when Daylight Saving Time begins, while Canadians living in Alberta (53%) or Saskatchewan / Manitoba (58%) are most likely to indicate they don’t notice a change.

Should Canada stop seasonal time changes? According to Canadians…

Nearly three-in-five (57%) Canadians think Canada should stop seasonal time changes, 24% think Canada should continue beginning Daylight Saving Time in March and falling back to Standard Time in November, and 17% have no preference.

British Columbians (77%) are more likely than all other Canadians to say Canada should stop seasonal time changes, while Atlantic Canadians are more likely than all others to state Canada should continue with them (33%).

Preferences differ among Canadians who think that time changes should be stopped: 46% would prefer to permanently adopt Daylight Saving Time, 35% would prefer to adopt permanent Standard Time, and 17% don’t have a preference (as long ask those pesky time changes are gone!).

What does the science say?

Circadian rhythm experts, including members of the Canadian Society for Chronobiology, are arguing for permanent Standard Time instead of permanent Daylight Saving Time, stating that it is better for individual and societal health.

Michael Antle, Vice-President of the Society, notes that although Daylight Saving Time means more light in the evening, it also means that less light is available in the morning, which makes the “mismatch between our body clock and our social clocks worse… [and] evidence shows that later sunrises/sunsets can contribute to increased rates of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart attacks,” in addition to other issues.3

Antle mentions that if Canada were to move to permanent Daylight Saving Time, certain regions of the country would be more negatively affected than others, as “the further west we are within our time zones makes for later morning light,” which would have a greater impact in winter.4

DO YOU THINK CANADA SHOULD STOP SEASONAL TIME CHANGES, AND IF SO, WOULD YOU PREFER PERMANENT STANDARD OR DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME? Tell us in the comments below! AND DON’T FORGET TO CHANGE YOUR CLOCKS! 😊

Survey Methodology

This online survey of 1,518 Canadians aged 18+ was conducted from February 14-17, 2020. Respondents were randomly recruited from the Leger Opinion (LEO) online panel. The data are weighted to ensure a representative sample of the population. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of n=1,518 would have a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The numbers presented have been rounded to the nearest whole number, however, raw values were used to calculate the sums presented and therefore may not correspond to the manual addition of these numbers.

Sources (retrieved February 25, 2020)

1https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/two-takes-depression/201811/daylight-saving-time-and-depression

2https://globalnews.ca/news/6329779/manitoba-daylight-saving-time-public-consultation/

3/4https://arts.ucalgary.ca/news/circadian-rhythm-expert-argues-against-permanent-daylight-saving-time

Are you interested in knowing how your mood compares to the rest of the population? Check out Leger’s Mood Index Test!

This post is also available in: Français

Go back to the publications