Welcome to Spring when we embrace warmer weather, budding vegetation, and chirping birds. We also observe the start of daylight saving time (DST). At 2:00 AM, on the second Sunday in March every year, we make our clocks “spring forward” to 3:00 AM. Daylight saving time stays in place until the first Sunday in November, when clocks “fall back” again.
Why do we do this?
The goal is to maximize the use of sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere between the spring and fall. By “springing forward” people add an hour of light to the end of their day.
Who thought this up?
Benjamin Franklin may have started a trend with a letter he wrote to the Journal de Paris in 1784. He noted the excess of morning light before people even got up, and suggested that if time could change the city might save an “immense sum” in candle usage. An advocate for a similar idea was George Hudson, an entomologist from New Zealand, who in 1895 proposed that a two-hour time shift would allow more daylight for bug hunting. William Willett put a similar idea in front England’s Parliament with his 1907 pamphlet “Waste of Daylight.”
When did DST begin in the US?
DST was ushered into the US on March 31, 1918, with the Standard Time Act, a wartime measure for seven months during World War I in the interest of adding more daylight hours to conserve energy resources. Year-round DST, or “War Time,” was implemented again during World War II.
Who observes DST?
Most of North America, Europe, New Zealand, and a few regions of the Middle East do a time shift in the Spring, although there is a wide variety of start and stop dates. Most of Africa and Asia do not change their clocks, and South America and Australia differ from region to region.
In the US and its territories, Hawaii, Arizona (except the Navajo Nation), Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands all opt out of daylight-saving time.
Are there benefits to DST?
Changing clocks can be controversial. While no one can argue about the fact that we gain more light at a later clock time, there still may be drawbacks.
Some say setting clocks for DST can help with:
- Energy savings
- Child safety (less walking home in the dark)
- Reduction of car accidents
- More time for harvesting produce
- More healthy outside activities
- Less depression
Others say setting clocks for DST may result in:
- Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders
- Missed meetings and appointments
- Increased immune suppression or even heart attacks
- Using cars even more during later light hours
Are we ever going to just stay on DST?
In 2022, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill called the Sunshine Protection Act, to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. The House of Representatives must still pass the bill before it can go to President Joe Biden to sign. If enacted, this bill would take effect starting in November 2023. Stay Tuned!