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Winter-time is coming: perhaps for the last time?

Yes, it’s that time of year again when summer is well and truly over. The clocks go back on the last Saturday of October, plunging the whole of Europe, into what seems like eternal gloom and darkness. Winter is coming. However, did you know that this may be the last time that you need to change the clocks?

The European Commission wants to get rid of summer and winter time. The member states can then decide for themselves which variant they will introduce permanently.

It’s the subject of a lot of discussions. Should we switch permanently to daylight saving time or still keep the winter time forever?

Why changing the clock is such a hassle

The EC’s decision comes after years of complaining. A lot of people suffer from the half-yearly time shifting, although putting the clock back an hour is less drastic for the body than putting the clock one hour ahead. That is because our natural rhythm is between 24 and 25 hours. If the day lasts an hour longer, then it has less impact on all kinds of physical processes.

It is more difficult at the start of summertime. Suddenly, the day only lasts 23 hours, and you can feel that! You can suffer from fatigue and other symptoms for a long time when you enter daylight saving time. If the wintertime starts, it’s easier to adjust.

Except if you are the lucky owner of small children. Of course, they make everything harder by continuing to wake up early!

Children and winter time

Kids up to five years old have a biological clock that is adjusted quite tightly, at exactly 24 hours. Given the right sleep conditions, children are punctually awake at the same time. At the start of the winter season, that is an hour earlier than mum and dad would like. If your toddler normally starts calling at half past six, then after the clocks go back, that is half past five.

You’re going to have to go to bed an hour earlier to cope with the early starts. Fortunately, there is also good news: for older children, the start of the winter time is just right. They have to be woken up during the week, and now suddenly have the feeling that they have slept for an hour. And that has a nice effect on their mood!

The pros and cons of the winter season

Going back to winter time brings pros and cons. As a result of the turning back of the clock, it becomes light again an hour earlier in the morning. And that is nice if you have to go to school or work early. In the evening, however, it becomes dark an hour earlier. In the middle of winter, twilight starts at about four o’clock. And this is a minus, according to many people.

This explains why opinions about the permanent switch to summer or winter time vary so much. According to a recent poll, 44% of respondents prefer summer time. 38% would prefer that the winter time is permanently maintained. Everyone else is happy with the status quo.”

Summer time is unhealthier than winter time

According to Bert van der Horst, professor of Chronobiology and Health at the Erasmus Medical Centre, winter time is better for us. “We see that in the summer our clock does not completely move with the light-dark cycle,” he explains in NPO radio program This is the Day (EO).

According to him, the maintenance of daylight saving time is “a risk factor for all kinds of ailments”, such as a heart attack, depression and even cancer. In Russia, they have already permanently opposed moving the clock to summer time.

After a number of years, it was reversed because most people weren’t keen on it anyway. However, Professor Jim Horne, Director of the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Loughborough, believes that evolution has given us an innate flexibility in our body clocks: “It was dangerous for our ancestors to sleep in daylight because they were open to attack, so we slept several hours less in the summer. We still have this natural propensity to adapt our sleeping patterns but modern, urbanised living blocks have superseded our need to alter it.”

Lack of light

This autumn, we will have to change the clock again in any case. And no matter how you get used to it or turn it around; the winter is always darker than in the summer. If you are sensitive to it, you may suffer from certain symptoms, such as fatigue, drowsiness, lethargy and seasonal depression.

In that case, light therapy can help. A daylight lamp provides your retina with extra light, which can greatly reduce symptoms such as fatigue and depression.

Tips on Winter season

Do you want to go into winter time without too much hassle?

If so, we have a few good tips for you:

– Go to bed on time and make sure your day and night rhythm is stable.

– Take care of relaxation and do the things you like. Meet with friends or family, go to the spa for a day or to the cinema for an evening.

– Eat healthily, especially a lot of fruit and vegetables. In the winter you can use some extra vitamins and minerals.

– Getting up is easier when it is light. When the alarm goes on, turn on all the lights in your bedroom. The light gives your brain a signal that the day has started and the sleepy feeling disappears faster.

– Move your alarm clock away from your bed. As soon as the alarm goes off, you’ll have to get up to stop that noise.

– Do you want to wake up more comfortably? A wake-up light gives the effect of a rising sun, so you wake up faster and easier from your dreams. You can also download one of the wake-up apps that will help you get out of bed.

Permanent British Summer Time (BST) or British Winter Time (BWT), what would you prefer?

What would you rather have permanently, BST or BWT?

Sources: NHS, Sleep Research Centre, Telegraph, Erasmus Medical Centre

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