More Germans ‘suffer health problems after clock changes’

The clocks go back one hour this coming weekend. But a new survey has highlighted the rising health concerns of Germans over the time change.

More Germans 'suffer health problems after clock changes'
Clock changes cause health problems for many Germans. Photo: DPA

It's that time of year again: on Sunday (October 27th) the clocks in Germany will go back by one hour, inaugurating shorter winter days again.

READ MORE: Everything that changes in October 2019 in Germany

But numerous surveys have shown the majority of Germans want to see time changes abolished.

Now new research carried out on behalf of the DAK health insurance company, has found that almost every third German (29 percent) experiences physical and mental health problems due to the clock changes – the highest amount in recent years.

The clocks reset from 3am back to 2am this coming Sunday. Technically daylight savings (in spring) means an extra hour of light in the evening, while standard time means there is less darkness in the morning. The clocks 'spring forward' an hour in March and 'fall back' an hour in October, every year.

However, time is running out on the clock changes after the EU parliament voted to get rid of them.

READ MORE: Survey: Majority of Germans want to abolish clock changes

Health problems due to time change

According to DAK, more than three quarters of Germans are of the opinion that the time change is unnecessary and should be abolished.

More than three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents to their survey said they felt tired because of the time change. According to the survey, the next most common complaints involve problems falling asleep (65 percent) and insomnia (70 percent), from which women suffer particularly frequently. 

A total of 41 percent of Germans find themselves less able to concentrate, while almost a third feel irritable. One in eight people even suffers from depressive moods. Men are 14 percent more likely to be affected than women (10 percent). 

Meanwhile, 18 percent of respondents said they arrived late to work after the time change.

“Psychological problems which occur after the time change are nothing unusual,” said psychologist Franziska Kath. 

Kath said it is similar to jetlag because the inner clock gets confused.

“The best medicine is also the simplest,” Kath said. “Rest and a few days of patience. Often it helps not to make stressful appointments in the week after the change and to approach everything at a more leisurely pace.”

In an EU-wide survey last year, 84 percent of participants spoke out in favour of an end to the time change. The EU Parliament voted in March for the abolition of the time change by 2021.

So far, however, it is unclear how this is to be implemented. Each member state has to give a preference as to whether they want summer or winter time to apply permanently. However, the majority of Germans (67 percent) would like to see a new uniform time regulation throughout Europe, reported DPA.

In Germany, the time change was introduced in 1980 as a reaction to the oil crisis two years earlier. The aim of this measure was to save energy because daylight savings means it stays brighter for longer in the evening.

Since 1996, summer time has applied throughout the EU and begins on the last Sunday in March. On the last Sunday in October, the clocks in all the countries of the EU are then turned back to winter time, i.e. normal time.

“Most people do not want to switch their clocks every six months, they want permanent summer time,” Germany's Finance Minister Peter Altmaier said last year.

“People want to enjoy their free time in daylight after a hard day at the office or in school in winter, spring or autumn too.”


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Germany’s Buchenwald camp calls out ‘disrespectful’ sleddding at site

The German memorial at former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald Thursday demanded an end to visitors playing winter sports at the site, after some were even spotted sledging at its mass graves.

Germany's Buchenwald camp calls out 'disrespectful' sleddding at site
The former Buchenwald concentration camp pictured in July 2020. Photo: DPA

Criticising “disrespectful” behaviour, the foundation asked guests to refrain from leisure pastimes at Buchenwald and the former subcamp Mittelbau-Dora in eastern Germany.

“Sporting activities are a violation of visitor rules and disturb the peace of the dead,” it said in a statement, warning that its security staff would be stepping up patrols and trespassers would be reported to the police.

The director of the foundation, Jens-Christian Wagner, told news website Der Spiegel that “masses” of daytrippers had gathered at the site over the weekend and most seemed to have come for fun in the snow.

“Some of the sledge tracks ended at the mass graves,” he said.

Wagner said he could understand that many families with children wanted to spend time outside, particularly during a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus, but that the memorial expected appropriate behaviour from its visitors.

“As time passes, historical sensitivity is fading,” he said.

More than 76,000 men, women and children died at Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora during World War II. They were either killed by the Nazis or perished through illness, cold or starvation.

Thousands of Jews were among the dead, but also Roma, gypsies and political opponents of the Nazis, gays and Soviet prisoners of war.

Last January the then head of the Buchenwald foundation, Volkhard Knigge, warned that unwanted visits from neo-Nazis were becoming an increasing problem ahead of the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation.

“We increasingly find messages in the guest book claiming that Nazism and the concentration camps were sensible and good for the Germans,” he told German media.