From Sunday onwards Daylight Saving Time will be in force again. On Sunday (27.03.22) at 02:00 in the morning we move the hands of our clocks forward one hour, that is to 03:00. This means one hour less sleep.
When do we move our watches?
This is probably question No. 1: What’s the easiest way to remember when and in which direction we move our watches? Certainly we do it on the last weekend of March (daylight saving time) and the last weekend of October (winter time). The best way to remember it is this: in the spring we put our garden furniture out into the garden, i.e. in front of the door, while in the autumn we put it back inside. So this year on the night of October 30-31 we will move our watches backwards – from 3 a.m. to 2 a.m. In turn, the watches on our cell phones should reset themselves to the correct time. As for daylight saving time, the watches in the year 2022 were switched on the night of March 26-27, from 2 o’clock to 3 o’clock.
Time change – how did it all start?
The regulations related to time change are, despite appearances, not that old. In Germany they were introduced 37 years ago. The German government decided then that it was necessary to save energy and make better use of daylight. That is why Daylight Saving Time was introduced in 1980 as a consequence of the oil crisis of the early 1970s. Since then, watches have been reset in Germany every summer and winter – meaning we start the day, take a shower and drink coffee earlier or later. In Poland this regulation has been in force since 1983.
Interestingly, three quarters of Germans think it is quite unnecessary. As surveys of various research institutes show, many Germans are in favor of withdrawing the time change. They feel uncomfortable with the prolonged or shortened night and need a couple of days to adjust and get into the new rhythm of the day. But why is it so? And in which direction do we move our watches? Below we will try to answer the most important questions!
In which countries watches are changed?
Watches are switched in particular in countries located in the temperate zone in the northern and southern hemispheres – between the subtropical zone and the given cold zone. To these countries include all countries of the European Union. Also the USA and Canada distinguish between daylight saving time and winter time, but set their watches on different days than Europeans.
In turn, many countries that lie near the equator, never introduced the time change. There, the sun always rises at the same time – regardless of whether it is summer or winter.
The first time change took place in Germany in 1916, when Germany introduced daylight saving time for several years to save coal for the war industry. In Poland the first time change took place in 1945.
Do you sleep better after the time change?
Contrary to what you might think, you don’t sleep better after changing your clocks – even though the night lasts an hour longer. According to a study by a sleep medicine journal, there is little evidence that you sleep longer or better that night. Also, on subsequent days, many people actually sleep less than usual because they continue to wake up at the old time out of habit.
To get used to that extra one hour, most people need 1-2 days, but some people need longer. It is most difficult for the elderly, children and people with sleep disorders. For them, the process of switching can take up to a week. Gender differences can also be noted – during the survey commissioned by the DAK health insurance fund, as many as 28% of women admitted that they have problems with switching to the new time and only 16% of men.
What helps for such “mini jetlag”?
The switch to winter time is easier if you already give up coffee and alcohol from the afternoon. Also, taking sleeping aids is not advisable. Ideally, the evening before the time change you should go to bed half an hour earlier. This will help your body adjust to the new rhythm.
As for the morning after the time change, experts advise alternating showers to stimulate the circulatory system. If you usually take an afternoon nap, this time you should give it up and go for a walk in the fresh air instead.
What effect does changing the time have on your health?
The time change in the fall is easier to bear than the one in the spring because our internal clock runs a little slower than a 24-hour day. Therefore, it is easier to go to bed later and fall asleep later than to go to bed earlier than usual.
The effects of the time change can manifest as fatigue, sleep disturbances and headaches. In some cases, it can even lead to heart rhythm disturbances or digestive problems. The German Society for Sleep Research. The German Society for Sleep Research (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schlafforschung und Schlafmedizin, or DGSM for short) found from research that referrals to the hospital for suspected heart attacks increase after the time change.
Could the time change promote more accidents on the roads?
Experts say it does. According to the DGSM (German Society for Sleep Research), the time change leads to an 8% increase in car accidents. Also, the European Car Club (ACE), found from data from the Statistical Office that there are more dangerous accidents in the week after the time change. This is linked to disrupted sleep patterns.
Wildlife Associations, on the other hand, point out another danger – it is easy to collide with deer or wild boar on local roads. Due to the time change, many people who commute to school or work every day travel during twilight – which is when wild animals go in search of food. Andreas Kinser of the German Wildlife Foundation says that “animals don’t know the time change and drivers in the early evening simply have to be very careful.”
Does changing the time nonetheless make sense?
Critics believe that the original goal of saving energy was never achieved in Germany. It is true that after the change to daylight saving time in March, better use is made of daylight and electricity is saved, but on the other hand many households turn on the heating an hour earlier.
The Technology Impact Assessment Bureau of the German Bundestag (TAB for short) evaluated various studies on the subject last year together with external experts. The experts found no significant evidence that the time change has positive effects – neither economically nor in terms of health. Moreover, the energy savings are negligible.
Will time change be phased out?
By far the most successful online survey of the European Union was the one on abolishing time change regulation. The European Commission received 4.6 million responses. Three million came from Germany. This took place a year ago. However, nothing has happened since then. On the other hand, the European Parliament has already spoken out in March this year in favor of abolishing the time change as early as 2021. However, for the amendment to come into force, a majority of EU countries would have to agree to it. So far, no agreement has been reached between the responsible ministers on this issue. The implementation of the planned abolition of the time change is therefore still uncertain. The ball is currently in the court of the individual EU countries, and it is up to them to make a joint decision on how the possible time change would be implemented.