Clocks change tonight going back one hour

by Deborah Cater
Clocks change at 3am tonight

Winter time comes into effect Saturday night. However, 95% of Spaniards are against changing the clock. When the clocks change by an hour it saves energy but damages health.

On the night of 30th to 31st October, the European Union’s ‘winter timetable’ comes into force.

In Spain too, at 03:00, the clock goes back an hour to 02:00. Winter time means that it gets light earlier but darker earlier; a change that not everyone is happy with.

According to a survey by the European Commission, 95% of Spaniards want to abolish the time change. Since 1981, the European Union changes the time twice a year: in March the clock goes forward and in October the clock goes back one hour.

Effect on biorhythm

This action affects people’s biorhythms and not everyone welcomes the change. Experts in the fields of time reform, energy efficiency and chronobiology have warned that it can be harmful to health. Moreover, the debate on whether these changes should be retained has been submitted to the European Commission for public consultation.

Large majority of Europeans in favour of abolishing winter and summer time

The European Commission asked Europeans for their opinion on the time change in 2018. In the end, the survey attracted a record 4.6 million responses. The responses showed that 84% of Europeans do not want to continue changing the clock twice a year.

In Spain, resistance is even higher at 95%. However, despite the clear results, the consultation was unable to reach a consensus on which of the two time zones should be maintained, winter or summer time. Moreover, the health crisis created by COVID-19 has led to the issue being shelved, so there is still no definite answer.

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Annual clocks change saves energy but is bad for health

According to chronobiologist Trinitat Cambras, abolishing the clock change would be very positive, because changing biorhythms affects human health. The difference in time can make people feel unwell, cause sleeping problems, develop cardiovascular risks and in some cases even lead to depression. However, research professor María Ángeles Durán from the Spanish National Centre for Biotechnology (CSIC) said that ‘stopping the time difference will not be a panacea’. She added that it would not make us happier, nor would it improve productivity.

The director of the European Commission’s representation in Barcelona, Ferran Tarradellas, said during a debate in Barcelona that if a decision was eventually taken to abolish the time change, ‘it would apply to all member states’, as otherwise there would be ‘problems’ that would affect the internal market, among other things.

The first time shift in Spain was in 1918

The shortage of coal due to the First World War and the need to find new ways of saving energy led Spain to adopt the first time shift decree in 1918. Germany was the first to introduce the system, together with its allies. That was in April 1916. The United Kingdom followed a month later.

Political time division during the Spanish Civil War

Time changes continued irregularly in Spain in the following decades, often affected by politics.  A curious fact is that during the Spanish Civil War, the time of the national side was different from that of the  republican side. In 1950, Spain stopped changing time altogether, until the oil crisis in 1974 forced its return.

Globally fluctuating course

In the European Union, the indefinite change of time was introduced in January 2001 after the adoption of the ninth directive of the European Parliament and the Council of the   European Union. From 1981 onwards, the change applied as a directive that was renewed every four years. More than 140 countries have changed the time at some point, although almost half of them have stopped doing so and only 75 still maintain it.

Iceland and Belarus, for example, do not change their clocks.

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