Daylight saving time is starting again and that can affect your health

by Lorraine Williamson
time goes forward one hour

This morning, 31 March, Spaniards and other European citizens had to change their clocks again to start summer time. Members of the European Union are obliged to do so under European Directive 2000/84/EC.

At 2.00 am in the morning, the time changed to 3.00 am. That meant we slept an hour less. These adjustments are not without controversy, and many experts warn every year about the potential health consequences. Like the rest of the European Union, Spain will change the time again in the early hours of Sunday, 27 October, 2024. Then the clock goes back again.

Why is daylight saving time?

The countries of the European Union change the clocks twice a year with the main aim of saving energy and taking advantage of the sunlight. The first change was made in Germany and Austria on April 30, 1916. In Spain, this did not happen until 1918. Then a decree was published to save coal.

However, a 2019 report by the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy states that such savings are marginal, as while there may be savings in lighting, they are not so obvious in heating, where consumption can even increase in winter.

The impact of the time change on health

Time changes are not without controversy, especially in daylight saving time. Experts such as those from the Spanish Sleep Association (SES) have often warned of the harmful effects of moving the clocks forward. The SES states that the time change changes the time of sun exposure. In addition, it unbalances the internal clock. As a result, it can take a few days to adjust to the new rhythm. Some people report irritability, lack of concentration, poor work performance, and insomnia. The imbalance can lead to “Insufficient, disorganised, poor-quality sleep. It can promote the onset of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure, as well as “obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, depression and anxiety,” according to the SES.

Spain has an hour more than it should have

In general, due to its geographical location, Spain has an hour more than it should have. Despite the fact that its position coincides almost entirely with the UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) time zone, in 1940 it was decided to coordinate Spanish time with Central Europe.

Strictly geographically, the Canary Islands should have one hour less than they do now, Galicia could even have two hours less (to be on par with the Canary Islands in the UTC-1 time zone) and the rest of Spain one hour less.

When is the last time change in Spain?

Although it is not known if it will be the last, Spaniards will have to put their clocks forward or backward at least until 2026, depending on the season. On March 15, 2022, the Government Gazette published the dates for the time change over the next five years.

The dates of the following time changes

Daylight saving time changes are as follows:

  • 2024: Sunday, March 31
  • 2025: Sunday, March 30
  • 2026: Sunday, March 29

Winter time changes are as follows:

  • 2024: Sunday, October 27
  • 2025: Sunday, October 26
  • 2026: Sunday, October 25

Also read: This Spanish village does not participate in the clock change on March 31

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