Spain timezone change
Spain runs on Central European time, but lays mostly inside the Western European time zone (WIkiCommons)

The Spanish government is to move the country's time zone in a change which could finally eradicate its centuries-old tradition of an afternoon siesta.

According to a parliamentary report, Spaniards dine and go to sleep late, and tend to slack at work, because Spain sits in the wrong time zone.

"We are permanently jetlagged," said Nuria Chinchilla, director of the international centre for work and family, which helped in drafting the report. "Our official time doesn't match the solar time and our habits are shifted."

Most of Spain lays in the middle of the Western European time zone and, according to the map, should share its time with London.

However, due to a decision by late Fascist dictator Francisco Franco in 1942, it observes Central European time instead and runs an hour ahead of daylight.

According to El Pais newspaper, during World War II Adolf Hitler pressured his allies to synchronise to Central Time during World War II, to better coordinate their actions on the battlefield.

Although Spain wasn't directly involved in the war, Franco agreed out of "sympathy" for the Nazi ruler, the paper says.

Hitler Franco
Hitler meeting Franco in 1940 [Life].

"[It was] a great historical mistake, which partly explains why in this country we dine later than in the rest of Europe," Chinchilla told El Pais.

"According to the official time we have lunch at 2pm and dinner at nine but as by the daylight we do the same as the rest of Europe [eating] at one and at eight."

The shift causes Spaniards to sleep in average one hour per night less than the World Health Organization recommends, a habit that badly affects their productivity at work, the report says.

"Dining at nine, we should start work at 10 am. That would make sense. But we do not," Chinchilla said. "We start early and lengthen the morning too; so we waste time because we have to pause to eat something to hold on until lunchtime.

"[The time zone] negatively affects many measures of productivity, such as absenteeism, stress, work accidents and school dropout rates," the report adds, suggesting Spain should shift an hour back and align clocks with Britain.

Chinchilla also says that the idea of a long, lazy lunch, during which past generations of Spaniards often had a short sleep, must be eradicated across the country.

"To be effective, they also have to change the hours of work... eliminate the break for breakfast and, above all, introduce a pause of no more than one hour for lunch. According to my studies, with this we would gain an hour and a half for our personal life."

The siesta has already been abolished in large parts of Spain, suggesting many people will be receptive to Chinchilla's views.

However, not everyone agrees that Spain should move onto British time.

"Maybe we should also drive on the left side, get drunk over the weekend and have only three typical dishes instead of thousands," El Pais reader Francis Ortiz commented.