On 30 October, the European Union will set the time back to the original summer time. Winter time was introduced back in 1981. Like the rest of the countries in the European Union, Spain will also move back one hour this year.
As every winter since 1981, the last Sunday of October will mark a farewell to daylight saving time. At 3.00 am in the morning, the clock will go back to 200 am. And that means an hour longer sleep!
And while it can be annoying, this Sunday’s transition to winter time is the least disruptive of the two annual changes Europeans make. The change to daylight saving time in March advances the clock. This means you sleep an hour less that night. Whereas the change in October brings the biological clock back in line with daylight saving time.
How does the time change affect us? The eternal debate
Setting the clock back an hour allows more hours of rest. As does a more natural way of waking up at dawn. This promotes a more stable biological rhythm and is, in fact, the change that the Spanish Sleep Society (SES) permanently recommends: ‘This would achieve greater sunlight exposure during the most common working and school hours’.
With winter time approaching, controversy and debate are also returning. Changing biological rhythms by changing time twice a year is not welcomed because of its potential health implications. The introduction, which became official across the EU 21 years ago and aims to promote energy saving, does not convince all experts.
According to the SES, any time change involves an adjustment period. Even if it is only one hour and in the early morning hours, moving the clock back or forward changes the time of sun exposure and unbalances the internal clock. It takes several days to adjust to it. The change often causes irritability, lack of concentration, poor work performance and insomnia during the first few days.
Insufficient, disorganised and poor-quality sleep also promotes the development of diseases with a major social and economic impact such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, depression and anxiety, the association said in a statement.
The debate on whether these changes should be retained has even been subject to a public consultation at the European Commission. A proposal to remove them was made in 2018 and a process was initiated so that, if member states agreed, they could be abolished in 2019. However, the initiative was deemed premature by the then EU-28 and the decision was postponed.
At the time, the European Commission consulted citizens on their views on the time change and the responses showed that 84% of Europeans do not want to continue the practice of changing the time twice a year. For Spain, this figure rises to 95%.
The coming years
The Official Gazette (BOE) published last March the date of the time changes that will take place until 2026, meaning that Spain will continue to set the clock back and forward for at least the next four years.
According to the BOE, the dates for the start of summer time are as follows:
- 2022: Sunday 27 March
- 2023: Sunday, March 26
- 2024: Sunday, March 31
- 2025: Sunday, March 30
- 2026: Sunday, March 29
The dates for the start of winter time as follows:
- 2022: Sunday 30 October
- 2023: Sunday 29 October
- 2024: Sunday 27 October
- 2025: Sunday, October 26
- 2026: Sunday, October 25