The Norwegian town that has abolished time

Midnight sun: On the Arctic circle, it is light for half of the year and, then, dark for the other half.

Should we get rid of clocks? The 350 residents of Sommarøy have declared their town the world’s first, time-free zone. They say that living by the clock is making us stressed and unhappy.

What’s happening

Humans have kept track of time for more than 4000 years. But the 350 residents of Sommarøy in Norway have had enough.

They have decided to live without clocks, so that they can do what they want, when they want — although children still have to go to school.

Find out more

In Sommarøy, when the sun rises on 18 May, it does not set again until 29 July. During the winter months, the town is cloaked in darkness.

Sommarøy has now declared itself the world’s first, time-free zone.

“If you want to cut the lawn at 4am, then you can do it,” says Kjell Ove Hveding, who led the campaign.

He says that stress and depression around the world is “linked to the feeling of being trapped by the clock”.

According to philosopher Truls Egil Wyller, humans have only obeyed the clock tightly for the last 200 years. Before that, we worked for as long as we needed to, rested when we were tired, and ate when we were hungry.

Should we go back to life without clocks?

Some say…

Yes. By living according to strict clocks, we are forcing our bodies into unnatural rhythms. What’s wrong with having lunch at 3am, or sleeping at midday? We could embrace life more fully and be happier if we trust our instincts rather than the clock.

Others think…

No. It would be chaos. How would you know when to meet people? How could businesses run smoothly if everyone worked at different times? It may sound like fun but, if anything, life without clocks would be more inconvenient and stressful.

You Decide

  1. Could you live without clocks?

Activities

  1. Make your own sundial with paper and a pencil. Pierce a hole in the centre of the paper and position the pencil in it, so that it stands upright. Watch its shadow move with the sun over time. Make markings on the paper to show every hour.

Some People Say...

“The clock never stops, never stops, never waits.”

Ben Folds, US singer-songwriter

What do you think?

Word Watch

Stress
Feeling unhappy and worried about things. Too much stress can harm your health.
Depression
A mental illness that causes people to feel sad and unable to enjoy their normal activities for long periods at a time.
Philosopher
Someone whose job it is to think about big questions on the meaning of life.
Inconvenient
Causing problems.

Subjects

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