Daylight savings - and losses

British Summer Time was one hundred years old on Sunday and many people will have felt about that old having to get by on an hour less sleep. But why? Why did we all rise from our beds on Sunday morning groggy and grumpy?

As sunrise and sunset creep earlier and later in the day with the seasons this is tamed by daylight savings time in many – but not most – countries. Some countries are split – not all states in the US and Australia change their clocks.

Some people are passionately in favour of British Summer Time – some even advocate double the hour change or switching to GMT plus one permanently. They cite improved safety and productivity of clock changing and this was the motivation for its introduction in 1916. Germany introduced daylight savings first, to save on coal consumption during World War I. The UK followed a month later.

There are detractors too. Losing an hour of sleep causes a spike in accidents in the days following changing the clocks. That disruption to our circadian rhythm can have repercussions and might be doing more damage than we realise.

The circadian rhythm governs our bodies’ sleep cycles. It synchronises us with the sun so that we want to sleep at night and be awake during the day. Daylight savings time causes a big change to how our daily lives are aligned with clocks and the sun.

It’s not 1916 any more so does this matter?

We see circadian rhythm disruption all the time and if anyone is off on holiday over the Easter break they will feel the effects of one of the most common modern day manifestations – jet lag. It takes a few days to settle back into a rhythm.

During a time shift like daylight savings it is every day for six months. And we do it to ourselves by using mobile phones and tablets at bedtime, sometimes even while in bed, that mimic the blue light of the sun and signal our bodies to stay awake. Certainly not something they had to worry about in 1916.

To find out more on blue light, the circadian rhythm and the impact on your health have a look at our Blue Light Explained resources.

What do you think of daylight savings? Would you like to see it increased?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below!


Frances F
Frances F

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