Stop the clock: why countries are killing daylight savings time

Studies have suggested change results in increased heart attacks, traffic accidents and crime

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Spring forward, fall back no more?

Dozens of countries around the world move their clocks and watches forward by one hour in mid or late March, reversing a change made six months before, in late October or early November.

Not everyone loves daylight savings time — particularly when clocks go forward in March and 60 minutes of sleep are suddenly lost.

Some studies have even suggested it results in an increased number of heart attacks, traffic accidents, workplace injuries and crime.

About 60 per cent of countries do not change their clocks. More than 70 observe the practice, but many are now considering scrapping it.

So why have some countries stopped it? And why do so many do it in the first place?

Why have daylight savings time?

The idea of moving the clock forward one hour from standard time is to give people more daylight during summer evenings and more light during winter mornings when clocks go back.

It is said that many countries adopted the practice during the First World War as a way to conserve coal.

In 1916, Germany became the first country to begin the practice, with the US and much of Europe soon following.

When does it start and end?

In the UK and mainland Europe, daylight savings time for 2023 will begin at 1am on Sunday, March 26, and end at 2am on Sunday, October 29.

In the US and Canada, the change was made on Sunday March 12 and the clocks will go back again on Sunday November 5.

The Middle East countries that follow the practice have various start dates in February and March and switch back in September or October, although Lebanon made a surprise decision to postpone the start of daylight savings time this year to April 20.

Which countries have abolished the changes?

Dozens of countries abolished the practice after observing it for many years, including Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Argentina, Brazil and Russia. However, Egypt decided this month to restore daylight savings time after nearly a decade.

Clocks in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Yemen are also not changed, along with India, China and Japan.

These countries will now be joined by Jordan after authorities scrapped the measure late last year.

Infographic: Which Countries Change the Clock? | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

Summertime, or daylight savings time, will now be “all year”, an official statement said, meaning Jordan will now remain at GMT+3.

Which countries could get rid of it?

In the US, the Sunshine Protection Act has been proposed to make daylight savings time permanent, removing the need to change clocks twice a year.

The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate on March 15 last year, but was never brought up for a vote in the House of Representatives. Senator Marco Rubio has reintroduced the bill in the Senate and House this year.

Several US states have attempted to end daylight savings, although few have actually done so.

A 2022 bill to exempt Virginia said the “overwhelming conclusion” of researchers is that it “directly results” in an increase in heart attacks, traffic accidents, workplace injuries, pedestrian deaths and crime, as well as sleep disruption and a loss of productivity.

It said research has also found a link to seasonal affective disorder, strokes and cardiac arrest.

A Time Amendment Act is also picking up steam in Canada to make daylight savings time permanent.

The European Union, too, wants to get rid of daylight savings time.

In March 2019, the European Parliament voted to dispense entirely with biannual clock changes.

The change was supposed to be enacted following agreement from the European Council — but the body asked the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to conduct an impact assessment first, Bloomberg reported. The issue remains in deadlock.

The UK has no plans to give up what it calls British Summer Time, despite a YouGov poll finding that those opposed outnumber those in favour by 40 to 33 per cent.

Updated: June 20, 2023, 8:04 AM