Back to winter time…

Malta today joined its European conterparts in reverting to winter time when clocks were put back an hour to what the Italians call “l’ora solare”, recovering the time we had lost at the end of March and realigning the chronometer that marks our days with the path of the sun.

We slept an hour more, but we will lose 60 minutes of daylight at the end of the afternoon. The solar time will remain in force until the last weekend of March, that is until the night between Saturday 26 and Sunday March 27, 2022.

The electronic devices connected to the Internet update automatically, while for wrist or wall clocks they must be adjusted by hand. There is no news, at the moment, regarding the possible abolition of the seasonal timetable change, on which the European Union had invited member states to decide by 2021.

The EU and summer time

2021 was to be the year of turning point, in which each country would be called upon to decide whether to always adopt solar time or summer time, to avoid the psychophysical discomforts of change of “time zone”. At the moment everything seems to have stopped: the priorities dictated by the pandemic have shifted attention to more urgent issues and, in fact, the issue has been set aside.

There is no news, at the moment, regarding the possible abolition of the seasonal timetable change.

The Council of the European Union, currently chaired by Slovenia, has not even scheduled the discussion of the subject. It will be the French presidency, who will be leading the next semester, to decide whether to take up the issue again. For the moment, therefore, everything remains as it is: the states of northern Europe are not in favour of summer time, since in the summer they already enjoy the sun until late in the evening, while an extra hour of summer light in the afternoon. it facilitates the southern states, even if not all are willing to maintain daylight saving time for all 12 months of the year. An agreement on this has not yet been reached, although it is important to avoid a checkerboard of time zones within the Union.

A little jet lag

The time change, in this case from legal to solar, at first glance seems to have less impact on the body than the spring change: putting the clock back means having an extra hour to sleep in the morning. In the afternoon, however, the darkness comes 60 minutes earlier, with the resulting feelings of drowsiness, melancholy and the impression of taking a dip in the bad season. The most common physical ailments are a bit of numbness and the need to realign appetite and the desire to go to bed with the clock. These are mostly minor disturbances: the advice is to start anticipating the hours from a day before, to change our habits as gradually as possible.

Autumn malinconia

It is useless to deny it, the early afternoon darkness weighs heavily on the mood. It is not just a psychological question, but a biological one: our inner clock is based on the presence of light. Less light means more melatonin, the sleep hormone, and in more sensitive subjects, a greater quantity of a substance called Sert. A study by the University of Copenhagen has shown that this molecule, which is known to function as a “transporter” of serotonin, is more present in the winter months than in the summer. The fact is not positive: serotonin, the hormone of well-being and happiness, remains, so to speak, “blocked” by Sert without being able to activate, worsening the general mood.

Happiness is a fact of light

The solution to winter melancholy therefore comes from light: since it is not possible to keep the sun above the horizon, we can study better lighting for our home. Light therapy provides the maximum possible use of daylight, for example by spending time outdoors and making our home brighter: for example, you can keep the window curtains open, or create additional light points. Yes, also to colours, to wear and to use for furnishing accessories and fabrics.

Last but not least, pay attention to nutrition: a balanced diet, without giving in to the lure of comfort food, will give us the energy we need to face autumn in health and joy.

(adapted from Ansa)

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