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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Clocks go forward: BST won’t just alter sleep patterns, but also fasts for those observing the month of Ramadan

As the United Kingdom prepares to spring forward into British Summer Time (BST) tonight, the annual ritual of adjusting our clocks by one hour brings with it more than just a change in sleep patterns. For nearly 4 million Muslims in the UK observing the holy month of Ramadan, this transition adds an extra layer of adjustment to their spiritual routines.

Ramadan, a month of fasting from dawn until sunset, began around 11 March this year. With the clocks moving forward, the timing of the fast-breaking, typically at around 6:40 PM, will now occur closer to 7:40 PM. This shift affects daily schedules and meal times for those observing this sacred tradition.

The practice of changing clocks twice a year, once in spring and once in autumn, is a familiar but often underestimated disruption. It serves the purpose of optimising daylight hours, aiming to make better use of natural light. Imagine the disorientation of waking up in darkness during winter months, and then consider an additional hour of that dimness as you commence your daily activities.

The origins of this biannual time change are steeped in history and various theories. One such theory traces back to Benjamin Franklin, a founding father of the United States, who mused about the potential savings in candle costs if people adjusted their schedules to match daylight hours. However, this idea remained largely speculative.

It wasn’t until British builder William Willet’s 1907 pamphlet, “The Waste of Daylight,” caught the attention of Parliament that serious consideration was given to the concept. His advocacy for maximising daylight hours in the morning hours resonated, eventually leading to the adoption of the system in 1916.

Despite the historical roots and purported benefits, the idea of abandoning the biannual clock change gained traction in the European Parliament in early 2019. However, as of now, there has been no implementation of such a proposal.

As we reset our clocks for another cycle of British Summer Time, let’s not overlook the broader impacts beyond mere timekeeping. From sleep patterns to religious observances, the shift to BST touches the lives and routines of millions, highlighting the intricate relationship between time, culture, and tradition.

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