Permanent Standard Time: For an empowered use of time and daylight, for the right to health, and for inclusion instead of discrimination.
Who wouldn’t like to enjoy an extra hour of sunlight after work, maybe meet up some friends, do a barbecue, perhaps some sports…? This is the association that is made with Daylight Saving Time, also called summer time. But behind Daylight Saving Time lies something sinister: Daylight Saving Time forces people to wake one hour earlier. So, another question must be asked: who wants to wake up one hour earlier?
For most people that is not a pleasurable thing. And most people are waking up in the morning with an alarm clock, not because they finished sleeping.
This is the choice that needs to be made: have the pain of waking up earlier and the pleasure of that extra sunlight in the evening, or the pleasure of sleeping more and missing that extra hour of sunlight.
People should have the right to choose their pains and gains when it comes to sleep. We believe this to be a fundamental liberty. But the right to choose has been hijacked by a dangerous misunderstanding. People think this is a choice between permanent Daylight Saving Time ("I can have more light in the afternoon") or standard time ("I can rest more in the morning"). But the truth is that only standard time gives you the possibility to choose.
Let’s unpack what that means. With standard time you can either sleep 1 hour more in bed or wake up earlier and go for that 1 extra hour of sunlight in the afternoon. There are plenty of options for starting earlier:
most jobs start already early;
most bosses are receptive to earlier working times;
a lot of jobs offer flexibility in working hours;
the majority of schools and kindergartens start or open at earlier times.
Standard Time therefore gives us choices and thus empowers us on how we chose to use time and daylight.
With Daylight Saving Time, on the other hand, this option is taken away from us. It obliges everyone to get up early and deprives us of the choice to sleep an hour longer in the morning. We are being forced into an earlier schedule whether we are aware of it or not, and whether we want it or not - the decision has been made for us. Because unfortunately it is almost impossible to organize a later daily routine, especially for families with children.
Starting work later still has very little social acceptance. Late arrivals are considered lazy or undisciplined. Day care centers expect children to be brought by 9 a.m. at the latest. Core working hours are often between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Anyone who, due to their biological sleep window, is dependent on starting work/daycare at 9:00 a.m. in order to be able to start the day without lack of sleep has lost that possibility with DST, this because even if the clock says 9:00 a.m., it's actually only 8:00 a.m. - too early for some people's biological sleep window. It is even more tragic for families with school children. School starts at 6:30 or 7 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m. under daylight saving time, even if this is obscured by the skewed clock. In addition, there are often long ways to school. Arriving on time is hardly possible for anyone without using an alarm clock.
DST gives people more light after work, but forces many to lose sleep every day. We have no choice in that. Standard time, on the other hand, gives everyone the opportunity to choose and better organize their a daily routine that is better for them - whether to get up early or sleep longer. Instead of a restrictive specification such as DST, it is advisable to keep clocks on the right time and explore options for making work, school and daycare times more flexible.
From choices to rights
But sleeping well is more than preference. Not sleeping well severely damages health. And shifting a country’s time zone further to the east (like what happens every summer with Daylight Saving Time) is unequivocally putting its citizens’ health at risk.
If you live in a country that has ratified the International Bill of Human Rights, it has acknowledged the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health [Unit03]. In other words, individuals cannot be deprived from their right to Health. To clarify, individuals can choose for themselves to sleep less, but they cannot be forced to do that by others.
To better illustrate what this means, imagine that a country passes a law stating that everyone must smoke everyday mandatorily. Or that only sugar-rich beverages are allowed to be drunk. Almost no one would find that acceptable in any capacity (with the possible exception of CEO’s of tobacco and soda companies). People nonetheless find it reasonable that others can act on these personal choices, as long as they do not harm others.
Daylight Saving Time is against Human Rights and against Constitutional Law
The idea of human rights is that each one of us, no matter who we are or where we are born, is entitled to the same basic rights and freedoms. Human rights are not privileges, and they cannot be granted or revoked. They are inalienable and universal.
The International Bill of Human Rights, in its International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, article 12, already recognizes that the health and wellbeing of you and your children should be protected as part of your individual rights and that it is the ratifiers obligation to prevent it from deteriorating.
Like all European Union countries, both Germany and Portugal have ratified the covenant
International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of
everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of
physical and mental health.
(2) The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for:
a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant
mortality and for the healthy development of the child;
b) The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial
c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic,
occupational and other diseases;
d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service
and medical attention in the event of sickness.
From the joint public letter "To the EU Commission" from the scientific associations European Biological Rhythm Society (EBRS), European Sleep Research Society (ESRS) and Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR) concludes that there is scientific consensus among experts on healthier choices for time zones:
"CET improves our sleep (1) and will be healthier for our heart (2) and our weight (3). The incidence of cancer will decrease (4), in addition to reduced alcohol- and tobacco consumption (5). People will be psychologically healthier (6) and performance at school and work will improve (7). Abandoning clock changes will offer the unique nation-wide opportunity to improve general health by installing Central European Time."
Thus, both the maintenance of the seasonal clock change to DST and the implementation of a year-round DST can be understood as violations of the considered human rights human and the commitment made to them via the signed treaties.
Therein it is clearly stated that human dignity is inviolable and inalienable and that the German people acknowledge human rights and commit to their enforcement (article 1) [Basi00]. Further articles add to that same commitment, where it is stated every person has the right to physical integrity (article 2)[Basi00]. As such, Germany as a country, when choosing for permanent Daylight Saving Time or keeping the time change, is in effect, revoking these rights to their citizens, something in contradiction to Germany’s ideals, beliefs, and both domestic and international law.
Portugal stands out for its commitment to Human rights, preserved across is Constitution, both in extend and detail [BrCa13]. Furthermore, the Portuguese Constitution, via its article 16, recognizes that international human rights treaties have a complementary role, allowing them to support constitutional human rights provisions [Mart12]. As such, in addition to national legislative bodies, the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) also plays a legislative role, a situation similar to countries such as France, Belgium, and Spain.
Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany
I. Basic Rights
Every person shall have the right to free development of his personality insofar as he does not violate the rights of others or offend against the constitutional order or the moral law.
Every person shall have the right to life and physical integrity. Freedom of the person shall be inviolable. These rights may be interfered with only pursuant to a law.
Constitution of the Portuguese Republic
Everyone has the right to the protection of health and the duty to defend and promote health.
The right to the protection of health shall be fulfilled:
b) By creating economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions that particularly guarantee the protection of childhood, youth and old age; by systematically improving living and working conditions, and promoting physical fitness and sport at school and among the people; and also by developing the people’s health and hygiene education and healthy living practices.
Standard time for fairness and equal opportunities
Our usual work, school, and daycare times favor early chronotypes and disadvantage middle and late ones, an unequal treatment that is exacerbated by DST. Early chronotypes, who naturally get tired early in the evening and wake up early in the morning, fit perfectly into our social structures, such as school and kindergartens, without a lack of sleep. The working hours of most jobs allow them to sleep in every day.
However, the majority of people are biologically middle or late chronotypes. They are dependent on later starting times in order to be able to start the day well rested. Depending on their chronotype and social obligations, it is a challenge for these people to organize a daily routine that allows them to live without sleep deprivation, being in many cases impossible. Chronic social jetlag is the outcome. Those affected suffer from daytime sleepiness, have an increased risk of falling ill, are less productive during the day and consequently perform worse academically. This inevitably leads to disadvantages in careers and of course lower income.
In order to counteract this inequality, jobs, schools and day care centers would have to make it possible to start later. DST, however, has the opposite effect: with the advancement of the clock, jobs and social services start an hour earlier, a situation that only promotes more inequality.
The decision of some young people to not to have children is particularly dramatic because they do not see themselves in a position to lead a life worth living with the given time constraints (daycare, school). The fact that DST is making social times even earlier deprives some people of their natural right to start a family or to enjoy parenthood to the fullest.
In terms of discrimination, Germany is one of the most progressive countries in the world. We are committed to equal rights and equal treatment for people of different genders, skin color, cultural background, sexual orientation, faith, political view, etc. Creating living conditions that discriminate against people based on their chronotype, such as Daylight Saving Time, does not meet the moral standards of our modern society.
Standard Time protects choices, rights, and promotes inclusions
In order to enable all people to use and control their time in a more conscious, empowered, and respectful manner, to protect our right to the highest level of physical and mental integrity and to give people a fair chance in society regardless of their chronotype, we must end the clock change to DST and make a permanent return to Standard Time. Permanent standard time means choice instead of coercion, the right to a healthy life and inclusion instead of discrimination.