Daylight Saving Time: Reasons And Myths Behind Changing The Clock

Daylight Saving Time is the twice-a-year ritual that throws our sleep cycles into utter chaos twice a year. Either we “spring forward” for the spring and summer, or “fall back” to regular time in the fall and winter. The practice is steeped in a rich history, with complex (and often inaccurately cited) reasons.

Daylight Saving Time Ends
Daylight Saving Time Ends

History offers several intriguing facts about the ritual that Americans often call their own, but is in fact a stolen practice from Germany.

  1. Daylight Saving Time was originally the idea of an Englishman by the name of William Willet. He brought about the idea in a 1907 publication “The Waste of Daylight” He envisioned a world where people would awaken early to take advantage of the sun’s light. We often hear that Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea of Daylight Saving Time, but he only suggested a change in the hours people were productive, not a shift in the clocks.
  2. The correct term is Daylight Saving Time. Not Daylight Savings time, as most Americans are fond of saying.
  3. Retail stores and local business hold the key to the true reason for the changing of the clocks. Ask around to many of your friends and family and you will find most believe farmers were the biggest advocates for the change. This group of people actually tried to have the law repealed in 1919. The time change caused major havoc to a farmer’s life. They experienced difficulties ranging from issues with workers, to the milking schedule.
  4. Daylight Saving Time (DST) started during WWI in order to reduce the cost of energy by utilizing the free light offered by the sun. However, new studies show that it is actually not saving energy any longer.
  5. After Congress repealed the act voted on by President Wilson there was still much confusion in the U.S.A. in regards to setting the right time on the clocks This is because not every state was required to follow the practice. In fact, in certain states, not every city followed it. For most states, standard time was used until President Roosevelt reinstated Daylight Saving Time during WWII. History’s“Ask History” section details the confusion. “This time, more states continued using daylight saving after the conflict ended, but for decades there was little consistency with regard to its schedule. Finally, in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized daylight saving across the country and established its start and end times in April and October (later changed to March and November in 2007).” Of course, this did not end the confusion, as you will see in number six.
  6. Only 48 states follow Daylight Saving Time. Arizona and Hawaii are the rebels, opting out against the springing and falling of time in America.

According to Huffpost, there is still a raging debate over the benefits of our 49-year-old ritual.

“Michael Downing, a teacher at Tufts University and the author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time,” says messing with the clock doesn’t really save energy. “Daylight saving is still a boon to purveyors of barbecue grills, sports and recreation equipment and the petroleum industry, as gasoline consumption increases every time we increase the length of the daylight saving period,” Downing tells MNN. “Give Americans an extra hour of after-dinner daylight, and they will go to the ballpark or the mall — but they won’t walk there. Daylight saving time increases gasoline consumption, according to Downing. “It is a convenient and cynical substitute for a real energy conservation policy.”

However, until the debate is settled and the practice remains in place, remember that Daylight Saving Time ends on November 1, 2015.

Be sure to move your clocks back one hour Sunday morning at 2 a.m.

[Photo courtesy of Getty Images]