An extra hour in bed my arse

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It’s that time of year again. The clocks have reverted from the cheery optimism of British Summer Time back to good old Greenwich Mean Time, accompanied – as usual – by the cheery reminders that “you’ll get an extra hour in bed” from newsreaders, weather presenters and the likes.


Very few people got an extra hour in bed. Only those who wake to an alarm clock on a Sunday morning get an extra hour in bed. Everyone else, who wakes either to a child, a pet or simply their own internal body clock, will get up the same time as usual, which is of course an hour earlier. Back when I worked in retail and started my shift at 8am on a Sunday morning, I would’ve enjoyed an extra hour in bed – provided I remembered to adjust the alarm clock before I went to sleep. Last year, when it was my body clock that got me up, I was up and awake on a Sunday morning at 6am.

So instead of getting an extra hour in bed, you get an extra hour awake to manually change all of the clocks in your home. And unlike spring, where adjusting the clocks amounts to pushing the “+hour” button on whatever digital timepieces you have, you have to instead push said button either 11 or 23 times depending on if you have a 12- or 24-hour clock. Analogue clocks, of course, you just twist anti-clockwise, although I did hear somewhere that was bad for them – but that’s probably one of the many weird and largely apocryphal bits of advice my mother has imbued on me over the years.

And then what happens is Sunday afternoons – one of the most depressing times of the week, and what Douglas Adams referred to as ‘the long dark tea-time of the soul’ – drag on endlessly. When it feels like six o’clock it’s only five o’clock, when it feels like five o’clock it’s only four o’clock and too early for supper.

There is talk of doing away with changing the time in summer, and more talk still of throwing the clocks forward an extra hour and going ‘European time’. This really isn’t going to sort anything. I find the amount of daylight available at a certain time of day helps me judge the time of year at a level looking at a calendar can’t (not least because the only calendar on the wall in my house still says February 2010). The fact that it’s now getting dark as I arrive home from work is a nice reminder at an almost subconscious level that Xmas, and my birthday, are coming (although this might be technically a vitamin D deficiency rather than some subconscious awareness). I guess it speaks volumes that, at an age that is rapidly approaching 27, I’m still looking forward to my birthday and Xmas.



  1. Here in India, we have sunlight all over the year and we have only one Indian Standard Time. I always have difficulty understanding summer time. And it seems funny to think it’s 12 noon when it’s only 11!

  2. I too find the switch both discomforting and unnecessary. Here on the western side of the Atlantic, we revert to normal time in two weeks.
    While the idea may be radical, I think we could make do with a single planetary time zone. Everything that is important is already indexed to UCT. It would be a simple matter of re calibrating our own sense of time.
    What a culture shock that would be. But it would be one and done instead of this twice a year shift.
    By the way, wonderful post.

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