‘Spring forward, Fall back’
Nature Notes by Ian Brand
Full article available HERE
On Sunday 30th October we will be turning back the clocks. Giving us an extra hour to snuggle beneath the duvet, but also darker evenings, as we change from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Do you look forward to cosy nights in, sat in front of the fire or do you suffer with the ‘winter blues’ with a lowering of both your mood and energy levels? In the most severe form known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Why the one-hour change back from BST to GMT on the last Sunday of October each year, and the reverse five months later, on the last Sunday in March? ‘Spring forward, Fall back’ is a useful mnemonic.
BST started just over a hundred years ago, following the passing of the summer time act of 1916. This was hurriedly passed into UK law, following the introduction of daylight-saving time in Germany during the first World War, used as a way of conserving coal.
This one-hour time shift each spring and autumn has remained unchanged since 1916, apart from two separate occasions. The first during the Second World War when British Double Summer time was instituted, (GMT +2 in the summer, and +1 during the winter), to help the war effort by increasing useable daylight hours. Then between 1968 and 1971 when Harold Wilson’s government kept the clocks unchanged at GMT +1 throughout the year, in what became known as the British Standard Time experiment. Can anyone else remember wearing those luminous orange armbands to school on dark winter mornings?
Campaigners have long argued for the UK to join Central European Time (GMT +2 in the summer, and +1 in the winter). Potentially this may decrease road traffic accidents, and our home energy consumption with a reduced requirement to heat and light our homes with the lighter evenings. The tourist industry is in favour, and our health and well-being would benefit with more time to get outdoors after work. To date no government has introduced a white paper.
In the meantime, top tips for avoiding those winter blues include, getting as much natural sunlight as possible, especially in the morning. Take plenty of exercise, especially outdoors. Even a short walk can give you a real lift and keep to regular bedtimes. If your symptoms are more severe you may need to consult your GP. The only other option would be to fly south with the Artic Terns, who live in a perpetual summer.