When Do The Clocks Go Forward In 2024 & Why?

5 Min Read | By Gemma Curtis

Last Modified 13 March 2024   First Added 18 September 2020

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

In 2024, Daylight Saving Time will begin on Sunday, March 31, at 1am. During this time, the clocks will be moved forward by one hour to mark the arrival of Spring and Summer. Later, on Sunday, October 27, the clocks will be pushed back by one hour to end Daylight Saving Time.

Even though this was established in 1916, many people still question precisely why the clocks go forward and what it means. Let’s answer your all-important questions below…

What does the clocks going forward mean?

British Summer Time (BST) is when the clocks are moved forward by one hour. During this period, evenings have more daylight while mornings have less daylight, also called Daylight Saving Time. It can impact our sleep patterns and daily routines, but it is meant to provide more daylight during the hours when most people are awake and active.

Soon, when the clocks are moved back, the UK is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This is the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, England, which is located on the Prime Meridian of the world. It is the time zone that is used as a reference for all other time zones in the world.

Why do the clocks go forward?

We change our clocks forward every year to get the most out of the summer daylight. This idea started during World War I. By 1916 the German government implemented the first clock change to conserve energy. The longer the daytime hours lasted, the less electricity they needed. Some European Governments followed suit, including the United Kingdom. And to this day, we still follow the British Summer Time (BST) system and change our clocks forward every year.

The clocks going forward can disrupt your body clock for up to a week.

Why do the clocks change at the weekend?

The clocks go forward on a Saturday night and early Sunday morning to ensure it is not disruptive to businesses, schools and everyday life routines. People will have a few days to adjust to the new time before starting their week.

Changing the clocks during the week could create confusion and disturbance in people’s daily routines and sleep schedules, which may result in tiredness, missed appointments, and other unwanted inconveniences.

Which countries change their clocks like the UK?

Many countries change their clocks in a similar way to the UK. In fact, around 70 countries worldwide practice some form of Daylight Saving Time, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, most of Europe, and some parts of South America and Asia. The UK is not alone in the clock-changing tradition.

A man sleeping on a wooden bed, hugging the striped duvet.

Do we lose or gain an hour of sleep?

When the clocks go forward, we ‘lose’ an hour of sleep because we have skipped an hour. But, despite the change in sleep pattern and not knowing what time it is for at least a day, there are some good things to come out of this practice. We look at five things that will benefit you from Daylight Saving Time.

5 benefits of the clocks going forward

Now we know when and why the clocks go forward, let’s explore some of the benefits that affect the nation, our sleep and our health.

1. It’s officially British Summer Time

Well, it might not always be sunny or hot…! But when the clocks go forward, our time zone changes from GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) to BST (British Summer Time). Our country may not have the best reputation for summer, but at least we get to look forward to holidays and relaxation.

2. It’s lighter for longer

One of the biggest benefits of ‘springing forward’ is that we have lighter evenings. This means that we can get more out of our day. A study highlighted in The Mirror showed an increase in children’s physical activity during the early evening when the clocks were moved forward. 23,000 children were observed from countries all over the world. They reported, ‘The scientists found children’s total daily activity levels were up to 20% higher on summer days when the sunset after 9 pm than on winter days when darkness fell before 5 pm.’

3. It’s good for your health

More daylight means more sunlight. Our body produces Vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight. This super vitamin has many important functions, such as facilitating immune system function and regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous. It is vital for having healthy teeth and bones and helps us remain healthy and fight diseases. If it’s cloudy, top up your vitamin D by eating oily fish, mushrooms, milk and eggs.

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4. You’ll naturally wake up

Waking up in the dark winter is hard. Not only because we don’t want to leave our cosy beds but because our bodies don’t think it’s morning yet. Your circadian rhythm, or ‘body clock’, can be easily manipulated by natural light. Business Insider says this is because ‘exposure to bright natural light via the sun tells your body that it’s daytime, which signals your brain to stop producing melatonin, the hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm’. Waking up with the sun is much nicer than waking up with an alarm clock blaring!

5. It saves energy

This is the main reason why the clocks go forward. With one extra hour of daylight in the evening, we use less energy for heating and lighting our homes. We can also rely much more on solar energy, which is far less environmentally harmful than fossil fuels. It also means you’re less likely to use electricity or gas inside the house.

How to prepare for the clocks going forward

It’s an obvious piece of advice, but a few nights before the clocks are due to go forward, start going to bed a little earlier. Here is the advice of Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council: ‘Some people suffer from fatigue, cognitive slowing, mood problems and slower reaction times when they miss out on sleep. Studies have shown an increase in heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace injuries in the days following the shift to British Summer Time.

‘Start the Wednesday before: go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier each night and wake up 10-15 minutes earlier each morning. When Sunday arrives, you will already be adjusted. This is particularly helpful for those with young children.’

If you are still struggling to get a good night’s sleep even after preparing for the clocks to go forward, make sure you read our guide on how to sleep better at night.

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