Ready or Not, Daylight Saving Time is Upon Us

Twice a year, before snuggling into bed, we set our clocks forward or backward an hour for Daylight Saving Time. Have you ever stopped to think what exactly is the reasoning we do this or how it came about?

“Spring forward” and “Fall back” are popular terms associated with daylight saving. In the springtime, we spring our clocks forward an hour, and in the fall, we set our clocks back one hour.

What is Daylight Saving Time?

Time changes occur overnight on the weekend. The idea behind this is to limit time disruptions during the weekday. Most people are asleep when the clocks shift forward or backward an hour.

Springing forward one hour in the spring, we essentially lose one hour of the day. Then in the fall, we regain that lost hour.

How did Daylight Saving Time Come to Be?

There is controversy over how Daylight Saving Time officially began and who created the idea.

Many people believe farmers as a whole were responsible, as they worked long outdoor hours. However, this was not the case. Farmers used the sun to tell time and get their work done, rather than the clock itself. Changing the time by an hour was only seen as a disruption to the farmers’ workload. Time changes also messed up feeding hours for farm animals. Rather than looking at it as an extra hour of sunlight to get work done, farmers looked at it as a hindrance.

Some believe Benjamin Franklin is responsible for coming up with the idea. He is famous for coining the phrase, “Early to bed and early to rise.” This phrase led people to believe he invented Daylight Saving Time, but he was merely suggesting a change in sleep patterns.


Benjamin Franklin
Image by Joseph Duplessis

William Willett Memorial
Image by P Ingerson

Englishman Behind Daylight Saving Time

Englishman William Willett was another individual who is often credited with starting Daylight Saving Time. Though it is true he believed clocks should be moved forward to maximize sunlight during the daytime; he passed away before any changes were officially made to set the clocks.


George Hudson, an entomologist from New Zealand, is another individual given credit for inventing Daylight Saving Time. Hudson felt it was shameful that so many people were sleeping through a lot of daylight during the summertime. He also enjoyed golf as a hobby and was never thrilled to have to end his golf round due to the sun going down too early in the evening. He proposed the changes, but also passed away before any concrete changes were made.


With all that said it is safe to say that there will never truly be an agreement on exactly how Daylight Saving Time came about and who should get 100% credit for it.


After World War II, the idea of Daylight Saving Time became more prominent, and countries started adopting the practice, especially after the energy crisis in the 1970s.

George Hudson
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Is Daylight Saving Time Beneficial?

Much like the controversy over who officially invented Daylight Saving Time, there is also controversy over why we have it and the actual benefits and drawbacks of having it.

On one end of the spectrum, many believe that it saves energy and allows people the opportunity to be outdoors more during the summertime, which brings health benefits. On the other end of the spectrum, many believe that it does not save energy, and it increases health risks rather than decreasing them.

Often Called the Most Depressing Day of the Year

Darkness is often associated with depression. A lot of research has been done to determine whether or not seasonal depression is linked to Daylight Saving Time.

Generally, in the spring, when we set the clocks forward, we wake up, and it is still dark outside. In the fall, when we set our clocks back, it gets darker sooner in the evening. No matter how you look at it, once the clock is adjusted there is a new period of darkness that we all experience.

When we set our clocks forward an hour in the spring, some people also view this as “losing” an hour of sleep, which can negatively affect sleep patterns.


How to Cope with Time Change

Web MD suggests several routines to practice to stay out of the Daylight Saving Time funk. Go to sleep a little earlier the night of the time change. This will give you a better chance of waking up feeling less tired.

Pay attention to light. During waking hours, expose yourself to light and during dark hours, stay away from bright light. This helps your body better adjust.

Take care of yourself. Avoid caffeine before bedtime and exercise a good while before you head to bed, so your body has time to calm down and relax before you get into bed.

Lightening the Mood with Fun Daylight Saving Time Tidbits

The pattern seems common. There are a lot of controversies and questions that still ring true today when it comes to Daylight Saving Time. Despite all the debates, there are some common fun tidbits about Daylight Saving Time:

  • Not every U.S. state implements Daylight Saving Time. Both Hawaii and the majority of Arizona are the oddballs out. (So this means that if you are living or traveling in Appalachia during Daylight Saving Time, you will experience it twice a year.)
  • The term is singular, not plural. For those who have called it “Daylight Savings Time” all these years, drop the “s” to be grammatically correct.
  • TV ratings usually go down during the first week of Daylight Saving Time.
  • Barbecue companies support Daylight Saving Time, as it brings more sales in for them.

Mark your calendars. This Fall Daylight Saving Time will occur overnight on Sunday, November 4th!

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