From Iceland — Scientists Consider Delaying Clock In Westman Islands As Pilot Project

Scientists Consider Delaying Clock In Westman Islands As Pilot Project

Published July 27, 2022

Photo by
Dominika Milek

Sleep scientists are pushing for increased research and piloting a one hour time delay in Vestmannaeyjar to better regulate Icelanders’ body clocks.

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This is not the first time officials have discussed delaying the clock in Iceland by one hour to bring it closer to solar time, reports Vísir. After a detailed examination by the government between 2018 and 2020, the government decided the clock in Iceland should remain unchanged.

Erna Sif Arnardóttir, assistant professor at the University of Reykjavík (HR) and director of the HR Sleep Center, says that the results of sleep studies strongly suggest that delaying the clock by one hour would have a positive health effect.

“All the studies that have been done and all the scientists who are really working in this field are encouraging that we are in the right time zone, that is to say that the sun is highest in the sky at noon,” Erna Sif in Reykjavík says.

“In the meantime, I understand that funds should be put into research on sleep and improving the sleep of Icelanders. There hasn’t been any funding for that yet, but we are working with the National Health Service on an educational initiative and creating materials for schools and such,” Erna Sif says. An educational initiative will also soon be launched for people in shift work and their employers.

Worry about the decrease in light hours

The reduction of daylight hours during waking hours weighed heavily in the government’s decision, which said that an examination of whether local time should be brought closer to solar time “has not produced a strong enough argument to justify the large change of delaying the clock by one hour.” Likewise, there has been called for more research on the sleep of residents in the Arctic.

“It is true that less research has been done in northern areas, but it is of course complicated to do such research,” says Erna Sif.

“It is then necessary to change the clock for some people, and that was what we were hoping we could do in Iceland as a pilot project. One idea that we came up was to get Vestmannaeyjar to join us and they would be on a different clock since they are on their own island, but we haven’t tried it yet,” says Erna Sif.

She adds that at the moment her research team at HR Sleep Center has to devote all its energy to working on a huge project that examines sleep apnea and snoring in Icelanders.

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