Why doesn’t China want an extra hour of sleep?

Are you guys excited for an extra hour of sleeping time? Are you following the daylight savings? If you are, is China following it with you? While much of the world will be participating in the bizarre ritual of moving their clocks forward an hour for Daylight Savings Time (DST) this weekend, China won’t be taking part. That’s because China doesn’t observe it.

If you’re from a Western country, you probably know the DST drill. In autumn, the clocks “fall back” an hour, earning you an extra hour of sleep. But in the spring, the clocks “spring forward,” which means you lose a whole 60 minutes of precious shut-eye. The clock switches are supposed to account for the changes in daylight hours between seasons.

If you’ve ever tried to schedule a Skype call with family or friends back home, you’ve probably noticed how this affects the time difference. For example, if you’re making a call to a friend on America’s East Coast from China, you might be 13 hours ahead in November but 12 hours ahead in April.

China is one of the several countries that does not observe DST, and their daily clock remains unchanged throughout the year. In fact, most of Asia doesn’t observe it, with Japan and India being the sole fellow DST followers.

But this wasn’t always the case for China. The Chinese government made the change to DST in April of 1986 to try and conserve energy. A study from Peking University illustrated that this could save up to 2 billion kilowatt hours of energy (O’Donnell 2017). Government officials had hoped that moving “wasted energy” from early morning light (thanks, sleeping factory workers) to the end of the day when more people were active, the demand for electricity would be reduced.

But the period of changing the times twice a year was unpopular. The city of Guangzhou found it difficult to adapt to the system, and eventually ignoring it altogether. When China was supposed to be moving clocks forward an hour on April 15, workers in Guangzhou complained so much that their employers caved.

The workday at restaurants, schools and government offices across Guangzhou was shifted ahead an hour so that workers could get up the same time as they normally did and still claim they were following the time change. But because the time change was not considered official, many people began forgetting to reset their clocks and meeting times constantly had to be doubled checked. The confusion and inconsistency led to the Chinese government ditching DST altogether in 1992.

Perhaps China is onto something. with not observing DST. The system isn’t too popular with the sleep-deprived citizens of the world. But don’t take our word for it — just check out the Change.org petitions calling for the repeal of DST.

 

Credit: O’Donnell, B. (2017, March 11). Explainer: Why China Doesn’t Have Daylight Savings Time. Retrieved November 2, 2017, from thatsmags: http://www.thatsmags.com/beijing/post/16191/explainer-why-china-doesn-t-follow-daylight-savings-time