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What you need to know about the clocks going forward tonight

Joe Harker

Published 
| Last updated 

What you need to know about the clocks going forward tonight

There are plenty of Brits who reckon tonight is going to be the worst night of the year and that's because it's when the clocks go forward.

Everyone loves it when the clocks go back and we get an extra hour in bed later on in the year but you'd be hard pressed to find someone who enjoys losing an entire hour of their day.

To keep track of which way you need to set your clocks then it's worth remembering what the Americans say: 'Spring forward, fall back!'

Frankly, switching the entire nation's time forward one hour only to set it back again later in the year is a pretty weird thing to do and definitely the sort of thing which would confuse the hell out of any aliens which ever wanted to stop by for a visit.

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With that in mind you probably have a few questions about the whole thing and we have done our best to give you some answers.

It's time for us to set our clocks forward one hour, but why do we do this? Credit: Matthew Lofthouse / Alamy Stock Photo
It's time for us to set our clocks forward one hour, but why do we do this? Credit: Matthew Lofthouse / Alamy Stock Photo

Does this mean it's the start of Spring?

Nope, we've already had that as the official beginning of Spring in the UK this year was 20 March and it'll end on 21 June.

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That's in an astronomical sense, where the Earth's orbit in relation to the Sun is in the right place for it to be Spring, and according to the Met Office it'll be the case for the next couple of years that Spring will have sprung on 20 March in the UK.

On the calendar the official first day of Spring is 1 March and the season ends on 31 May.

We put the clocks forward and back on the last Sunday in March and October respectively.

Spring has already sprung. Credit: GingersPictures / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo
Spring has already sprung. Credit: GingersPictures / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo
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Am I going to lose an hour in bed?

Technically you can dodge this by going to bed an hour sooner, but the simple truth is that an entire hour of the day is going to disappear and it's probably going to happen while you're asleep.

You want to be making sure that you're getting the proper amount of sleep when you go to bed so tonight it might be an idea to get your head down for some rest an hour earlier than you normally would.

You'll be thanking yourself tomorrow morning, alternatively you could live in the moment and stay up late because sleep deprivation is a problem for your future self to deal with, though this is medically inadvisable.

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Try and get to sleep an hour earlier if you can tonight. Credit: Pexels
Try and get to sleep an hour earlier if you can tonight. Credit: Pexels

Why do we even do this?

British Summer Time was first established into law in 1916 because apparently the country wasn't busy enough with the First World War to avoid fiddling with everyone's clocks.

Well, we say that, the war actually boosted support for the idea as a way of saving coal during the conflict.

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It came about after a builder, called William Willett, who noticed that lots of people were still asleep while the sun was up and wondered if changing the clocks could help make most use of the available daylight.

His idea was to move the clocks forwards and back by 80 minutes in four steps over the course of April and reversing it again in September, though this didn't end up being the model adopted.

US founding father Benjamin Franklin was a previous advocate for adapting the day to the available sunlight, though his suggestion was just that people should get up earlier in the day.

George Vernon Hudson is credited as the creator of our modern daylight saving time, though the idea itself to change the time of day depending on the amount of daylight to work with stretches back to ancient times.

William Willett pushed for the UK to put the clocks forward, though his suggestion was to do it by 80 minutes. Credit: AMcCulloch / Alamy Stock Photo
William Willett pushed for the UK to put the clocks forward, though his suggestion was to do it by 80 minutes. Credit: AMcCulloch / Alamy Stock Photo

Are we ever going to stop doing this?

Good question, hypothetical reader, and the idea has come up in the UK on several occasions though there's never seemed to be enough of an effort to really make it permanent.

The notion of scrapping the clocks going forward has come up time and time again but we haven't made the change.

If we're ever going to get rid of it then a government is actually going to have to sit down and decide to actually do something about it, so I wouldn't suggest you bank on that happening.

During the Second World War we actually put the clocks forward an extra hour, while between 1968 and 1971 we experimented with year-round Summer time.

The Monday after the clocks go forward has been linked with a higher rate of heart attacks and car crashes by some studies which suggest we might be better off not messing with time itself.

For a few years in the 60s and 70s we did actually scrap changing the clocks. Credit: travellinglight / Alamy Stock Photo
For a few years in the 60s and 70s we did actually scrap changing the clocks. Credit: travellinglight / Alamy Stock Photo

Does anyone else do this?

Lots of countries have their own method of daylight saving, though even then there are some weird fluctuations.

For example, the US uses daylight saving time but the states of Arizona and Hawaii do not, while in Canada certain states have also dropped changing times during the year.

According to Statista, the majority of countries around the world don't use daylight saving, though it used to be far more common practice.

Some countries have made moves to ditch the practice but found it tricky to agree on which time they should settle on.

Plenty of countries around the world used to do daylight saving time, many still do. Credit: Statista via Creative Commons
Plenty of countries around the world used to do daylight saving time, many still do. Credit: Statista via Creative Commons

When do the clocks actually go forward?

We've been telling you this is happening tonight but that's really been from the perspective of a night/day cycle.

The clocks will actually go forward tomorrow (26 March) morning at 1am, so once it strikes 1am our time will officially jump forwards to 2am and an entire hour will have just disappeared.

Theoretically this makes us all time travellers, though not in a cool Doctor Who sort of way and we're all already time travellers who can only really head in one direction.

The clocks are going to jump from 1am to 2am tonight, but you'll need to adjust the time yourself. Credit: nito / Alamy Stock Photo
The clocks are going to jump from 1am to 2am tonight, but you'll need to adjust the time yourself. Credit: nito / Alamy Stock Photo

What do I need to do?

That all depends on what sort of devices you use to keep time as you'll need to set your clocks forward if they have to be programmed manually.

Your watches, clocks, oven (this one is always a nightmare), microwave, car and plenty of other stuff you have will probably need resetting, or you could just not bother to do so on some of the more difficult devices to alter and wait a few months for the clocks to go back again.

Your bedside clock will need setting manually, but your smartphone should sort itself out. Credit: Jens Rother / Alamy Stock Photo
Your bedside clock will need setting manually, but your smartphone should sort itself out. Credit: Jens Rother / Alamy Stock Photo

However, there are plenty of more modern devices like your phone which will make the switch automatically and there's no need for you to fiddle about with anything.

If you're a bit of a night owl you could even stay up to watch the moment your phone's clock suddenly shifts a whole hour ahead, but then it will be 2am and you'll really need to get some sleep.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Health, UK News, US News, Weird, World News, Technology

Joe Harker
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