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Time Change: Everything you need to know about the clocks going forward this weekend

Spring forward...


Picture posed. Thinkstock

Picture posed. Thinkstock

Picture posed. Thinkstock

Spring forward; fall back. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the country will lose an hour’s sleep as the clocks go forward to mark the start of what is called 'British Summer Time'.

At 1am on 30 March, civil time in Ireland will be fast-forwarded one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), heralding longer, lighter evenings and, hopefully, the tentative beginnings of summer. It's called 'British Summer Time'.

In today’s digitalised world many people don’t have to worry about adjusting the hands on a clock - but here’s the reasoning behind it.

What is British Summer Time?

The idea of British Summer Time was first proposed in the UK by William Willett, who happens to be the great-great-grandfather of Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. He felt that valuable daylight was being wasted in the mornings during the summer months because people were still in bed.

In 1907 he published a pamphlet called The Waste of Daylight, in which he outlined his plans to change the time of the nation’s clocks. But when he died in 1915 the Government still refused to back BST.

It wasn’t until a year later, in May 1916, that Britain passed the Summer Time Act and started changing its clocks twice a year. Ireland followed suit.

In 1940, during the Second World War, clocks across Britain were not put back an hour at the end of British Summer Time, in order to save fuel and money.

However, in subsequent years, they continued to be put forward an hour each spring and then put back an hour each autumn until July 1945. This meant that during these summers the UK was two hours ahead of GMT.

Here are six benefits to the clocks going forward:

Proponents argue that British Summer Time is good for physical and psychological health, particularly in terms of relieving the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

1. It promotes more activity in the evening  - good for general fitness, and good for businesses.

2. It's good for the environment, people are using electricity less with longer daylight hours.

3. Expect the traffic not to be as bad on Monday, clocks going forward have been linked to some surprising effects on traffic safety.

4. People generally feel happier, more energetic and have lower sickness rates in the brighter days after clocks change

5. Sex drive increases, carb cravings lower and SAD disorder improves once people feel the effects of spring and the longer daylight hours. 

6. The lighter evenings are also said to reduce crime.

And the downsides?

Well, there’s always the risk of turning up late for a family dinner/ football match/ church service. But, on a more serious note, critics have said that changing the clocks is economically and socially disruptive, therefore cancelling out any benefits.

There are also a number of theories that suggest putting the clocks forward has a negative impact on the human body –  in 2012 a University of Alabama study found the risk of a heart attack surges by 10 per cent on the Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks forward.

So when exactly do the clocks go forward?

Summer Time begins on Sunday, March 26.

This means you should put your clocks forward at 1am on Sunday 26 or, failing that, before you bed down for the night on Saturday.

What losing an hour's sleep can do to your body... and how to fix it:

The chills: When your body is in need of more sleep it will begin to automatically prepare itself for rest, which involves cooling itself down. So if you find your teeth chattering at work, it’s likely that you’re in need of more sleep.

An elevated risk of physical health issues: Just half an hour of ‘sleep debt’ – a measure of how people are making up on lost weekday sleep at weekends- can disrupt the natural rhythm of hormones in the body and lead to a much greater risk of diabetes and obesity.

A dangerous lack of concentration: Data shows that there’s a distinct rise in the rate of car accidents in the week following the change so make sure that you’re feeling fully awake and ready to go before jumping behind the wheel.

Mental health: Lack of sleep is intimately linked to depression. Studies have show that suicide rates tend to rise following the changing of the clocks and this is partly attributed to mental issues that can be brought on by a disruption in circadian rhythms.

Rise in irritability can be a problem for relationships: Less sleep equals higher irritability, elevated selfishness and thus more fights with your partner. Suddenly the fact that they didn't hang up the bath mat embodies the existential failures of your entire relationship.

- And a few methods underneath that may help you get back into your sleeping pattern after the change and potentially aid with sleeping and waking behavior in the future:

As tempting as it may seem, try not to have a lie-in on Sunday: It's likely that, if you sleep in late, you'll impinge on your night's rest. It's very important to keep regularity in sleeping patterns to make sure that you never have to feel like you're catching up.

There’s no point going to sleep if you’re awake: If you go to bed in the knowledge that you're not going to get to sleep any time soon, all that you're doing is lying down, thinking about how long it is until your alarm goes off and growing anxious. Stay up for a bit and read a book or listen to relaxing music, anything to take your mind off actually trying to drift off.

No tablets in bed: It can be very tempting to send off a few emails or watch a couple of programmes before going to sleep but it's important to keep the bed set aside for sex and sleep only. The human brain's natural inclination is to make association with objects so if you're on your tablet for an hour before bed, it's likely to become a habit.

Ease off the caffeine after lunch: Research has shown that caffeine consumed up to six hours before sleep is likely to have a negative effect on sleep patterns so try and keep coffees to the morning.

Independent News Service