I woke up today confused and out of sorts. At first I thought I overslept – by one hour. And then I remembered. We’re back to Standard Time. Supposedly, I gained an extra hour of sleep at 2 am when time reset itself back to 1 am. I guess I should feel a little more rested today, but I don’t. Instead I’m kind of cranky. The time change signals that winter is on its way – my least favorite season.
It usually takes a while for me to adjust. It doesn’t help that I intentionally won’t reset one battery-operated clock for a couple days just because I want to remind myself of what it was like outside before falling back to Standard Time. It takes my cat far longer to adjust to waiting an hour longer to get fed!
I especially hated it during the years I was commuting to work. Leaving the office in the dark was so depressing! So, while working as sole content writer for my last full time employer, Freedom Disability, I decided to do some research and write about it. This is what I wrote for the company blog:
Why Do We Add an Hour in the Spring Just to Lose It in the Fall?
Time is measured by the sun’s position in the sky. It is what it is and has been measured this way for millions of years. So why is it okay to push our clocks forward one hour in the spring and then push it back again in the fall? Why do we do it? And who came up with this idea anyway?
Ben Franklin’s Whimsy
The original idea dawned in the great mind of Benjamin Franklin when he was startled awake at 6 am on a spring morning in 1874 to discover his room flooded with light. Usually, the curtains were drawn until noon when he would get up for the day. Upon further astronomical investigation he discovered that the sun rose earlier and earlier each day until the end of June. Revelation struck! Had he not awakened as he did, he would have slept through six hours of daylight, as always, and stayed up six hours longer by candlelight, as usual.
And so, he wrote a humorous essay “An Economical Project” to suggest an idea. If people were forced awake earlier in the summer months they would make better use of daylight hours. Then they wouldn’t stay up as late, which would save on tallow for candles. They would be conserving candlepower! And so he came up with all kinds of whimsical incentives to make it work, which, of course, would not. Years later, the idea of taking an hour away from the morning and adding it to the evening made more sense.
Why We are Confused
The concept of Daylight Saving Time (DST) is to extend daylight into the evening to conserve energy, and to also enjoy more of summer daylight. However, DST has caused a lot of confusion over the years.
Daylight Saving Time first became law in the United States on March 19, 1918 during World War I. Lots of people didn’t like it. So it was repealed in 1919. However, some states kept the law.
It was re-instituted year-round during World War II.
After the war, there was no federal law at all. It was a matter of choice made by any state, city or town to decide when it should start and end.
In 1966 the Uniform Time Act was established for all of the United States to make time consistent, except for those state legislatures that voted against it. And then there were several revisions after that, until 1986.
At that point, the law stated that DST began the first Sunday of April and ended the last Sunday of October. It stayed that way until 2007 when another revision changed DST to what it is now: the second Sunday of March until the first Sunday of November.
But wait. Congress has the right to change the dates again if there is no significant gain in energy savings due to extending the span of Daylight Saving Time.
And, then there’s the rest of the world. There simply is no consistency, whatsoever. Just a lot of confusion.
Why Bother at All?
Many people don’t like Daylight Saving Time. Some say the change upsets sleep patterns and affects productivity for days. Parents think it’s too dark in the morning for children waiting at school bus stops. Poultry farmers say it takes weeks for their chickens to adjust! And, then some say, there’s no real energy savings.
So, there you have it! This is why I’m cranky today. Looking out my window, the sun is already low in the sky, and it’s only 4 pm. In another hour it will be DARK!
What do you think? Is the time-change practice to “fall back, spring forward” worth the trouble? I say it’s served its time!