And at the right time.
Daylight Saving Time is a double-edged sword, albeit one that’s a nuisance to remember and one that is also, sort of, depending on who or what you read, crucial to agriculture…
Some 500 million EU citizens were asked for their opinion regarding the bi-annual summertime-wintertime switch in a survey which closed back in August of this year and, despite the vote being overwhelmingly in favour of abolishing it, disgruntled folks are still arguing its validity and purpose.
We have detailed the onset of Seasonal Adjustment Disorder and we have written, or published, a great number of articles concerning the argument of Daylight Saving Time and still, even in this office, we are split on whether it makes any difference or not.
Benjamin Franklin, an American politician and inventor, first came up with the idea of saving daylight while in Paris in 1784. He, with typical foresight, suggested that if people got up earlier, when it was lighter, then it would save a small fortune on candles.
Candle makers, obviously, wanted Mr. Franklin to see the sharp end of a blade, but nonetheless the idea stuck around. It arrived in the UK after Coldplay singer Chris Martin's (yes, really) great-great-grandfather, a builder called William Willett, thought it was a spiffing idea too.
In 1907, Willett published a leaflet called The Waste of Daylight, encouraging people to get out of bed earlier – the lazy swines that they were (said in jest).
The idea of moving the clocks forwards and backwards was discussed by the government a year later, in 1908, but many people didn't like it, so it wasn't passed as law. Then, in a highly ironic but ultimately sad series of events, Willett would spend his life trying to convince people that it was an idea worth legitimatising, only to die a year before it was introduced in the UK, in 1916.
This wasn’t the first recorded use of daylight tinkering, though, it was actually first introduced by the Germans in World World One - as a way to conserve coal during wartime.
And during World War Two, the UK actually adopted what was to be known as British Double Summer Time (BDST), when the clocks were moved ahead by an extra hour during the summer, perhaps as a strategy to get a start on Jerry. With Winston Churchill arguing that it enlarged "the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people who live in this country".
Since then it has been adopted by some, not all, countries, and has remained a bitter bone of contention.
The results of the recent Eur-Lex Study, the one with 500 million people asked, can be found here.
But here is the breakdown of results in absolute figures - 70 % of the replies (3.1 million) came from Germany, followed by France (8.6 %; 393 000) and Austria (6 %; 259 000). Other countries whose replies represent more than 1 % of the total are Poland, Spain, Czech Republic, Belgium, Finland and Sweden.
Comparing the number of respondents per Member State with the size of the population it shows that the highest response rates came from Germany (almost 4% of population), followed by Austria (close to 3%) and Luxembourg (close to 2%). In the rest of the Member States, less than 1% of the population replied (source: Europa.lu)
It's hardly a reflective voting number.
Staggered and complicated
Is all the fuss really about having to remember to change your clocks twice a year?
Yet, of those that did respond, the result was overwhelming. The majority of all respondents (a whopping 76%) stated that they have a negative experience with the switching from wintertime to summertime (and vice-versa).
Some are of the opinion that having BST is a good thing because it saves energy, by making better use of natural daylight, and helps to reduce traffic accidents.
Others aren't so keen because they argue that it doesn't actually save any energy, and it can 'make it darker when children are going to school in the morning, which can be dangerous'. They also think it is not very good for our health.
Health considerations was the main argument (43 %) of all respondents (more on effects below). Respondents who are in favour of keeping the current arrangement most frequently refer to their evening leisure activities (42 %).
Basically we like doing stuff late in the day and feel better when it is light.
Ireland, Israel, Spain and Portugal are among the handful of countries whose clocks will go back from 2am to 1am at exactly the same time as us. Looking further afield to the rest of the continent, most other countries will also have a clock reversal, just under a slightly different time zone.
But Europe is the exception, not the rule – the majority of the world's countries do not use any clock changes throughout the year. Overall, around one billion people will be affected by the change worldwide – that's a seventh of the global population.
The use of clock changes by some countries and not others is mostly related to latitude – places close to the equator experience very little change in daylight hours, which means they don't need the shift.
In the US, even they can’t agree, Arizona (mostly) and Hawaii do not change their clocks.
And won’t somebody please think of the business traveller. With crossing time zones already causing jet-lagged execs to overdose on caffeine and ginger shots, can the jet set world really be ready to relearn adjusted zones?
Don't get us started on what this could be post-Brexit. Fly further to Scotland but arrive later than you would in England, despite having just flown over it. The mind boggles.
When and Why? Blame the EU
Daylight Savings Time is always kept between the last Sunday of March and the last Sunday of October, and all changes take place at 01:00 GMT as according to an EU directive.
Spring Forward and Fall Back
To avoid confusion, simply memorize the simple phrase “spring forward, fall back”. The clocks always spring forward an hour on the last weekend in March, and fall back on the final weekend of October.
Within this practice also note that sleeping patterns are crucial to your overall mood and productivity.
Setting the clocks back by an hour at the end of October means the mornings are lighter, which can have an effect on the time you wake up in the morning. To make sure you’re getting sufficient rest, make sure your bedroom will be dark enough for you to achieve your full 8 hours.
Most adults need seven to nine hours to function properly.
- Leave a couple of hours between eating and going to bed.
- Turn off mobile devices before you head to bed. Blue light from screens can affect your ability to sleep.
- Make your room all about sleep: Use a comfortable mattress, pillow and bedding, and keep your room dark.
- Create a bedtime ritual. Make deep breathing, stretches and other relaxing exercises part of your presleep routine.
- Keep a piece of paper next to your bed. Write down any worries before trying to get to sleep.
This is the good one though, right? The October one is the one with more sleep. If there had to be a favourite between the two it would be this one, 100%. No argument. It's hardly Sophie's Choice.
I'll be spending my extra hour (even if the kids ignore the 'rules') tucked underneath a duvet in my preferred sleeping position: left side of bed, lying on my right side, one leg out of the covers (depending on my mood, jogging bottoms or as nature intended) if you must know.
You should also continue to practise good sleeping habits, by avoiding screens a good hour before bedtime, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants and making sure you have a comfortable sleeping environment in which to spend your extra hour of sleep.
Set the alarm and remember that your bosses are wise to the old excuses.
Stephen Lowe is a freelance journalist, an opinionated swine, a freelance DJ on Eldoradio and latterly a short film director/producer.
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