We defend your choice for extra sunlight and your right to sleep.
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.
With Daylight Saving Time, however, you are robbed of the option of getting much needed rest, because you were put in an earlier schedule, whether you realize it or not, whether you wanted it or not – the decision has been made for you. And unfortunately, people have extremely limited choices for starting later, especially with children.
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.
Human rights in Germany enjoy a high level of protection, both in theory and in practice, and are enshrined in the Grundgesetz or German Basic Law, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany [Basi00]. Therein, the very first article sets the tone about Germany’s commitment towards human rights [KaRR19].
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), that children and their parents are entitled to the protection and care of the communities (article 6) [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 for the Federal Republic of Germany
I. Basic Rights
(1) Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the
duty of all state authority.
(2) The German people therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable
human rights as the basis of every community, of peace and of justice in
(3) The following basic rights shall bind the legislature, the executive and the
judiciary as directly applicable 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.
Constitutionally, the rule of law is directly bound to human rights [Cons00]. Based on it, assurances are made that human rights are respected (article 7) and universal to all its citizens (articles 12 and 13), recognizing that ratified treaties are an integral part of the rights of the Portuguese people (articles 8 and 16). It recognizes the right to life (article 24), the right to personal integrity (article 25), it includes provisions respecting personal identity (article 26), and the right to health (article 64).
As such, Portugal as a country, either by choosing to remain in geographically inadequate time zones, and further displacing it by keeping the time change to daylight saving time, is in effect revoking these rights to their citizens, something in contradiction to Portugal’s ideals, beliefs, and both domestic and international law. Article 64 even goes as far as to state that the “right to the protection of health shall be fulfilled”, declaring that such should be done “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” [Cons00].
This is not only a domestic contradiction. Portugal is not only a ratifier of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but also its Optional Protocol, a mechanism by which its obligations could be legally enforced.
What Daylight Saving Time is already doing
Daylight Saving Time puts Germany in a time zone that not only does not provide its citizens the highest health attainable, it actively damages it, burdening the social welfare system by forcing its citizens to wake up even further away from their natural rhythm.
Portugal, both continental and its archipelagos, is not in their appropriate time zones. This means that, during standard time, Portuguese social times are already advanced relative to solar times: on average around 37 minutes for continental Portugal, 1h15m for Madeira, and around 1h for Azores. During daylight saving time, 1 hour is added to this offset. To contextualize, if an individual were do wake up in summer at 9h00am, it would actually be 7h23am in the mainland, 6h45am in Madeira, and 7h00am in Azores! It is absolutely clear that both the time change to daylight saving time, and the legal time zones in which Portugal is currently in, remove the right to protect, defend, and promote health from its citizens, and discriminates against not only the most vulnerable citizen groups (late chronotypes), but the great majority of the population.
Advancing the time zone further to the east, actively damages health, burdening the social welfare system by forcing its citizens to wake up even further away from their natural rhythm. This particularly affects families with children who are forced into early schedules by social institutions such as schools and day care centers. This leads to loss in productivity and worsening of academic performance. It does not only cost billions economically, but also removes equal opportunities, as only a small fraction of our society is able to operate within these early schedules without harm (see Chronotypes and Social Jetlag). No citizen can choose the genetic makeup that we are born with and the light-related adjustment of the internal clock is with nowadays professional und academic activities only possible to a very limited.
Daylight Saving Time is a condition that promotes societies to humiliate their citizens, labeling them as “lazy” or “irresponsible” for wanting to work at more humanly reasonable schedules. If someone wakes up early that someone is labeled as hard working. But someone working until later hours is more likely to be scolded than praised, even though both individuals would be working the same number of hours. It labels them as inadequate human beings.
Perhaps more dramatic even is the alleged choice that some couples, especially those the most affected by Daylight Saving Time and early schedules, take of not having children because of their inability to live a worthy life withing the social schedules. Because having a child, especially in Germany, carries the penalty of having to cope already with very early social times. Choosing Daylight Saving Time will remove some individuals natural right to constitute a family or to enjoy parenthood. It removes them a chance of a full life, of their dignity, their health and of their happiness.
How to Protect Rights and Choices
All we need to do as a society is choose a geographically appropriate time zone and stop all clock changes. This simple measure alone helps reducing social jetlag and ensures that more people can participate and contribute to our society.
If you want one more hour of sunlight after work, your preferences are also protected and ensured. You already have the social tools to be able to organize your life accordingly. Daylight Saving Time is equivalent to waking up one hour earlier and that you can do by yourself, without harming others.
By choosing standard time you are protecting us all and ensuring that society can work for all.