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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Time Will Stand Still On Sunday Morning




While many Russians look forward to gaining an extra hour of sleep Sunday morning, Alla Shutova just wishes the country's time commission could make up its mind.


This Sunday at 3 a.m. time will skip back to 2 a.m., as Russia completes its second decade with Daylight Savings Time.


Twice a year the time changes, and twice a year Shutova suffers from jet lag - without ever leaving her home in a Moscow suburb.


"The more I age, the worse it gets. When I was young I could cope more easily," said the 59-year-old epidemiologist.


"Now in October it's not too bad, but in the spring, it takes me ages to fall asleep."


The practice of "springing ahead and falling back," the main purpose of which is to save energy, has been observed by most Western countries for decades.


But until 1981, Russia didn't bother and people like Shutova slept soundly.


For most of its history, the Soviet Union was the only country in the world to use a "decreed time," that is, a fixed time for all the time zones in its territory. In 1930 Russian clocks were turned forward one hour - and left that way for five decades.


"Maybe that's why we can't get used to it. I was born and have lived mostly under a different system," Shutova said.


Professor Nikolai Blinov, head of the time department at the Schternberg State Institute of Astronomy, remains a staunch defender of the decreed time, which he says "solved all economic problems."


"If you had to draw a graph of a man's life, you would see that it's better to force him to live during the daylight," he said.


Under the decreed time, people would always get up when it was light out, he said.


Vladimir Labinov, head of the Agriculture Ministry's time service, said Daylight Savings Time results in a loss in production.


"The cattle lose sleep at the time of the spring change. That means a 5 to 8 percent loss in the season's yield," he said.


But proponents of Daylight Savings Time, which was first suggested by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 in a whimsical essay, say that springing ahead results in tremendous energy savings.


Russia joined in the big energy-saving scheme in 1981. In 1984 it adopted the standardized schedule of the European Union, where Daylight Savings Time stretches from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.


In the United States, it starts on the first Sunday in April and ends on the last Sunday in October.


For Nikolai Nasidze, a top specialist of the Interdepartmental Commission for Time and Standards, which analyzes time standards around the world, Russia's move to the European schedule is a reflection of its affinity to the West.


"We are their friends and this has helped Russia's integration with the West," he said.


Nasidze said the current schedule is valid until 2001, when a new document on time regulations will be issued by the European Parliament. This should give Shutova hope.


"In the Ukraine, they have already abolished it, and they plan to do away with it too in the Baltics," she said. "I just hope this is the last year it is being done in Russia."