Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Will Russians see any daylight this winter?

On Saturday night, many gadgets owned by Russian citizens spontaneously switched to winter time. Much to the dismay of their owners, it turned out that it was a mistake. Russia continues to live on summer time, which is two hours ahead of standard time. This means that the chronic lack of sleep and the need to leave for work early in the morning in absolute darkness will leave the majority of Russians even more depressed this coming winter than usual.

A hundred and ten countries of the world wind their clocks one hour back at the end of October, thus switching to winter time. Last autumn, Russia stopped being one of them. In 2010, President Dmitry Medvedev announced a proposal to keep summer time in the country.  Most people reacted positively to the news.

However, as soon as people saw the reality of summer time in winter, their enthusiasm cooled down a lot. According to polls, 73 percent of respondents approved the initiative in February 2011; in February 2012 the figure was already 44 percent, and in September 2012 - 35 percent.

A couple of years ago, Vyacheslav Aprelev, a specialist in chronobiology and applied astronomy, established the Committee "For the restoration of life in Russia under standard time."

"As a result, people can not get enough sleep. For example, in St. Petersburg, students need 3-4 more hours to get enough sleep. The deprivation of the daybreak phase of sleep inevitably leads to chronic fatigue and frustration of all systems of the body," said Vyacheslav Aprelev.

Last summer, he drafted a letter to Russia's Minister for Health, in which he cited a woman from the Far East of the country. Living almost on the border with China, she can see the following picture. Chinese children, who had a good night's sleep, feel happy and vigorous on their way to school. At the same moment, Russian children - all sleepy and not happy at all - finish their third class at school. The bewildered woman can not understand the point of this torture of children.

It is worthy of note that China, as well as Korea and Japan, have never changed their time. Russia stuck to the same practice before 1917. However, one of the first acts of the Provisional (in all senses of the word) Government was the document about a switch to summer time. Rumor has it that the Bolsheviks borrowed the idea from Britain. The Soviet government also conducted a number of time reforms. The last move of the Soviet government in this direction was a highly positive one. The government abolished daylight saving time (plus one hour to standard time), thus eliminating the desynchronization between biological and social time. Boris Yeltsin brought that hour back, though. As a result, when setting our clocks one hour ahead in spring, Russia became two hours ahead of  standard time.

The sharp discrepancy between biological and social time shows a particularly strong influence on children. "Adults are accustomed to constant fatigue, they accept it as inevitable evil. But the immune system of children is still fragile - it suffers from the lack of sleep much worse," Vyacheslav Aprelev said. According to specialists, the refusal from non-standard time reduces work efficiency by 10-15 percent.

In terms of finance, this accounts for the loss of 600-900 billion rubles. As for notorious energy savings, it only makes up 26 kilowatt-hours per year per person. So why suffer?

In the summer of the outgoing year there was a hope that Russia would reinstate winter time. Interestingly, the bill on the shift to winter time, initiated by the head of the Committee for Health, Sergei Kalashnikov, found support with every single faction in the parliament.

"The main argument in favor of this idea lies in the fact that life under summer time in winter has a tremendously negative impact on the body. The number of cardiovascular problems that people develop because of this increases significantly. With the replacement of summer time by winter time, people with health problems will experience less sickness, and stronger people will feel more comfortable," Sergei Kalashnikov said.

Vladimir Putin eventually interfered in the situation. He suggested that it was up for the government to decide the question of whether the nation should shift to winter time permanently. That, in general, seemed logical, since it was Dmitry Medvedev who initiated the abolition of winter time. The government has not said its word on the issue yet. 

Sergei Kalashnikov does not lose hope. In an interview with RIA Novosti, he said that the bill was being considered by the government. He did not rule out an opportunity to switch to winter time already this year. If it happens, 54 of 83 Russian regions will live on standard time, which is closest to human biorhythms. At this moment, there are only seven such lucky regions in the huge country.

Svetlana Smetanina


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