Daylight Savings Time

You’re Going to Turn Your Clocks Back One-Hour on November 2nd…..But Why?

You know the familiar memory device “spring ahead, fall back” used to assist you in remembering which way to move your clocks at the beginning and end of Day Light Savings Time (DST).   In Spring, you feel like an hour of sleep is being stolen from you when you advance the clocks, then in fall you capture an extra hour in the sack when you “fall back” the clocks.

This ritual has been going on for decades.  Whose idea was this anyway?

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”, clearly establishing himself as an advocate for daylight.

Then in 1784 while service as an American envoy in France, Franklin published a letter suggesting that Parisians could easily economize on candles if they’d get out of bed earlier to enjoy the morning sunlight.  The letter written as satire also proposed taxing window shutters, rationing candles and the ringing of church bells and firing of cannons to ensure the people were “early to rise”!

George Vernon Hudson

George Vernon Hudson

Daylight Savings Time as presently practiced was first proposed by George Vernon Hudson in 1895.  George was a shift-worker living in New Zealand who collected bugs for a hobby.  Due to the difficulty in collecting bugs in the dark after completion of the day’s real work and the fact that flashlights had not yet been invented, George longed for longer days of daylight!

Hudson’s proposition was presented to the Wellington Philosophical Society where it was received with great interest however, no action was taken as the members needed time to “sleep on it”?

In 1905 an English builder named William Willett who was an avid golfer became dismayed that his afternoon golf game was routinely disrupted by dusk.  As would any good builder worthy of his hammer, he lobbied local politicians for a resolution.   Parliament was partitioned to advance the clock one hour in summer, thus extending the apparent length of the day.

As is often the case with government on either side of the Atlantic, a “select committee” was appointed to examine the issue.  After a decade of indecision by Parliament, William Willet died in 1915 and with him the idea of the English implementing daylight savings time.

Uncle Sam Daylight Savings Time

Uncle Sam Daylight Savings Time

During World War I there was a critical need to conserve materials among all combatants.  On April 30th 1916 the Germans established the first use of daylight savings time as means of saving energy, their specific goal was to save coal being used to create electricity for lighting.

Soon after the German adoption of DST they were followed by Britain and the remainder of Europe soon followed.  The adoption of DST in the United States came in 1918, but ended shortly after World War I  was over.

The lights were out on DST until the world was again at war during the 1940’s, but soon after the wars end, DST was put back to sleep.

In 1966 Congress passed the Uniform Time Act with the intention of reducing the consumption of energy.  With this passage  DST made a permanent return to the United States with the exception of Arizona and Hawaii, who opted out of the change as did Puerto Rico.

Today most of North America and Europe has implemented daylight savings time in some form.  In the southern hemisphere DST is generally practiced in the months that you would typically consider winter, as there seasons are the opposite of those that occur here in the northern hemisphere.

The practice of DST is rare in Asia and Africa, though several nations there and elsewhere have experimented with it over time, no pun intended.

Many of the experiments were short lived.  In Barbados DST was observed from 1977-1980, Belize gave it a try for a year in 1973 and again in 1982.

So in summer you can now engage in golf or other after work activity in daylight!  But, that gain is not without controversy.

Change Your Clock, Change Your Batteries

Change Your Clock, Change Your Batteries

In 2010 a Journal of Environmental Public Health study showed an increase in auto accidents the week after the time change. The increase is believed to be due to a disruption in circadian rhythms disturbing sleep and alertness.

A 2009 Study in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed a 5.7% increase in work related accidents in the week following the time change and a 2008 Swedish research team showed that heart attacks increase 5% in the first three days after the DST change.

So, remember to set your clocks back one hour on Sunday November 2nd, and just to be safe, consider taking off Monday November 3rd!