Why do we change time?

What are the repercussions of this change, does it affect our health, does it harm the environment? All the answers are below.


Although we have not yet said goodbye to autumn, the time change that will take place this weekend will give us the possibility to adjust our routine to the hours when the sun is present. The change will once again call into question the advantages and disadvantages of turning back our clocks to put an end to daylight saving time.



Specifically, the change will occur in the early morning of Sunday, October 31 at 03:00 am, when it will become 02:00 am. This will only happen in the Iberian Peninsula, since in the Canary Islands the change will be at 02:00 am, when it will become 01:00 am.




When did the time change originate?


Benjamin Franklin, a renowned American scientist and politician, was the first to propose the "time change" format in 1784. At that time, Franklin was the U.S. ambassador to France and made the proposal as part of a plan to save energy and reduce the cost of electricity. Although this measure did not materialize at that time, it did serve as an inspiration for other people who had the same vision as the scientist.


In 1974, in the midst of the world's oil crisis, some countries, including Spain, modified their hours to take advantage of the daily sunlight and reduce energy consumption. In theory, Spain has followed the Berlin time zone since 1940, due to the links between Franco and Hitler, but it was not until the 1970s that it became official due to the industrialization of these countries. However, the initial purpose of energy saving is still a matter of debate.




Benefits of the time change on the environment


Much has been said about the advantages of the time change. For example, the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDEA) has concluded through various studies that the time change can generate up to 5% less electricity consumption for lighting, which is equivalent to about 300 million euros.


It is undeniable that a 5% saving is significant if we take into account the problem of global warming and excessive electricity consumption in many countries around the world. For many people, sustainable development can be achieved through practices such as time shifting. In terms of environmental care, any contribution is valuable, especially if it goes hand in hand with practices aimed at the responsible use of natural resources.




Disadvantages of the time change


The first thing we have to ask ourselves when analyzing the repercussions of this measure is what does it mean to have an extra hour of sunshine in the mornings? If we are talking specifically about morning hours, the energy savings are obvious. However, if we take into account the 24 hours of the day, there is no major change, since the lights will still turn on 1 hour earlier in the afternoon.


In fact, the value of the electricity bill may not be altered too much because the extra hour of daylight in the morning is not always enough to offset the hour of consumption gained in the evening. Clearly, if we "wake up early" with good natural light, we will considerably reduce the use of appliances and artificial lighting, and this in turn allows us to reduce our carbon footprint.


However, this is not always the best way to save energy. Large companies and industrial organizations use electric light in their facilities at any time of the day, and the time change represents a 1-hour extension of working hours. In addition, a 2006 National Geographic study showed that Indiana (USA) residents use their appliances longer during this time change, which would increase the value of the energy bill.


What really matters here is to deploy policies aimed at sustainability and energy savings through renewable energy and alternative fuel sources. In this sense, it is not about perceiving the time change as a solution, because indeed it can be, but to what extent does it make a difference?




Influence of the change of time on health


The most important thing to keep in mind with the time change is that it is a modification that aims to better adjust our workdays to sunlight. The thing is that everyone functions differently, and not everyone is successful in making this adjustment of routines.


Some experts, such as psychologist Blanca Tejero Claver, say that this season's time change, taking place in the middle of winter, promotes a sedentary lifestyle. According to her, by spending more time at home, we exercise less and are at risk of gaining weight. In addition, the level of physical inactivity can lower our levels of serotonin, the hormone associated with happiness.




How to adapt to the time change successfully?


According to the Association for Self-Care of Health (ANEFP), these are the tips to follow to have a better adaptation to the time change:

  • Define a sleep routine, which includes a time to get up and to go to bed.

  • Avoid taking naps during the first days after the change.

  • Take care of your diet with a diet abundant in vegetables and fruits. It is recommended to avoid the consumption of caffeine, alcohol and other substances that alter sleep.

  • Take advantage of the sunny hours to do physical activity.

  • Exercise the brain through reading, games or other activities.

  • Eat dinner earlier and eat foods that affect sleep.

  • Reduce the use of electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets and computers before bedtime.


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