A report released last week by Spain’s parliament links a host of physical, social and economic issues — including low worker productivity, higher school dropout rates, and a persistent feeling of jet-lag without traveling — to the fact that the country observes Central European Time despite its Western European Time zone location. The report cites evidence from various studies indicating that simply by being an hour ahead of its neighbors Portugal and the UK, Spaniards go to work earlier, work longer hours, and stay up later, resulting in a lack of sleep. It goes on to recommend that the government examine the pluses and minuses of switching to Western European Time, a move that could result in a profound cultural shift away from afternoon siestas and late-night dinners.
What’s the Big Idea?
Spain has been in this situation ever since World War II, when most European countries switched to Central European Time so as to coordinate battles more efficiently. Despite not participating in the war, the country switched as well, but instead of switching back after the war’s end, it decided to stay in that time zone. In addition to altering work schedules, a shift back one hour would require “[e]verything from public school class times to prime time TV…to change.”