THE BLOG

British Summer Time Never Has To End

01/11/2016 18:47

Half of the people reading this probably woke up on Sunday morning in glee. An extra hour snuggled under the duvet, for free. - an additional sixty minute's kip without having to wake up in a panic that you're an hour late for your Sunday morning plans.

But, the rest of us woke up with dread; another hour's sleep is no real compensation for losing an hour's daylight, which marks the unrelentingly miserable descent into pitch blackness by 3pm in December.

Daylight savings were initially introduced in the United Kingdom by William Willett in 1907. The rationale behind the change was to ensure that workers did not waste valuable hours of sunlight in the morning and thus stifle productivity and the economy.

Many other countries reached parallel conclusions in the 20th century but now, vast swathes of those nations and territories have come to recognise the drawbacks of daylight savings and have scrapped the practice altogether - including most of Australia and parts of the United States and Canada.

Despite the then logic behind its implementation, today's times are very different, with the majority of British workers labouring away from 9am until 5pm, five days a week. That means during the height of winter, we see all of our daylight come and go during working hours, with the sun rising an hour or so before we're on the clock, and it setting an hour before we're even allowed to leave the workplace.

It is an unquestionably better idea to increase daylight hours as close to quitting time as possible, when workers are far more likely to engage in social activities, improving morale across the board.

On the surface, this may seem an asinine debate to be having, but the effects of having a bi-annual shift in time zone are actually far reaching.

Statistics show that most criminal activity, particularly robberies and burglaries transpire during the dark evening hours; by staying in BST (British Summer Time) all year round we would be able to minimise those periods by an hour for five months a year.

In terms of business, Chmura Economics and Analytics have claimed that the bi-annual changes cost the United States economy $2bn a year, just from the 10 minutes it takes for workers to update all of their clocks. Moving an hour ahead would also put the UK on European Central Time, an act of solidarity with the European market which we have recently scorned.

And, crucially, The University of Cambridge concluded that we would help the environment by decreasing household energy demands by an hour a day, five months a year, which could also save homeowners £485m per year.

But what is most vital about the arguments for maintaining BST all-year round are the overwhelming health benefits. The Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL) found that lighter evening hours could spare 160 people from death, and 2,000 people from injury a year in road traffic accidents, potentially saving a stretched NHS up to £200m every year.

Similarly, during BST, the activity levels of children are 15-20% higher than during GMT. With childhood obesity now affecting a third of children aged between 2 and 15, this extra hour's daylight would increase exercise and thus their health. Another effect which could save £4.2bn annually for the NHS, with less health issues to deal with in the children's adult years.

The bi-annual changes also cause the body to feel out-of-sync for days, causing symptoms akin to jetlag. Studies have shown that this change in body clock synchronisation leads to a sharp increase in strokes, and makes workplace accidents 6% more likely to occur in the intervening days of a clock reset.

As well as this, we would be able to diminish the effects felt by those suffering from SAD (Season Affective Disorder) by lessening the harsh transition from lighter evenings to dark ones, as well as improving the moral of mental health sufferers across the board.

Of course, I wish it really could be summer every day, but in the UK, that will never be possible. In autumn and winter, we are powerless to resist accepting the damp, the cold and the dreary, but we needn't accept more darkness than is necessary. The benefits of retaining British Summer Time all-year round are staggering, let's turn the clocks forward - and be happier, healthier and better off for it.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS