WASHINGTON, March 8, 2013 — More anticipated than spring is the return of Daylight Saving Time (DST) this weekend. Those of you who have stumbled through dark mornings and darker late afternoons are about to get a reprieve on Sunday morning, March 10 at 2 a.m. when most of the clocks in the U.S. surge forward an hour, with our help of course. Better known as Spring Forward, it is the true rite of spring.
For many people, this is the moment that gives them more hope than Groundhog Day or the vernal equinox. Winter will soon end.
Sure, you lose an hour of sleep, but it’s worth it and it’s Sunday, so hit the snooze button. Sure, it will be a bit darker at 6 a.m. on Monday than last Monday, but it is only temporary.
And the added hour of daylight at the end of the day more than makes up for it. Sure, shorts and sandals weather is long way off, but Daylight Saving Time lets us dream of balmier days to come.
So before you head to bed on Saturday, March 9, turn your clock ahead by one hour. And yes, it’s a pain marching around the house springing all of your clocks forward, but it should put a spring in your own step if you think of it as your way of hastening the sun’s return to longer days. Besides most of your digital stuff took care of itself while you were sleeping.
Some answers to questions to ponder as you change your clocks:
1. Who dreamed up Daylight Saving Time in the first place?
Good old Ben, Ben Franklin that is. However, the idea didn’t catch on till WWI and then as a way to save on energy, but it lasted only for a few years. We didn’t return to it until WWII and then dropped it again in peacetime, although some states decided to keep DST, making things really confusing.
So in 1966, Congress did something smart for a change and passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized Daylight Saving Time. However, during the energy crisis in 1974 and 1975, Congress moved up the start of DST to January and then February. Finally the Energy Policy Act of 2005 set the new start of DST as beginning in March.
2. Does DST save energy?
Not really, since now we turn our lights on earlier in the dark mornings while turning them on late in the day as darkness arrives later. It all evens out over the course of the day, just as if we never fiddled with our clocks in the first place. But it sure makes everyone feel better.
3. Why do we do switch to DST in the middle of the night at 2 a.m.?
Believe it or not, it was for convenience. Convenience? The idea behind 2 a.m. is that most people are home and can turn their clocks ahead then if they want to, and early morning church goers or shift workers would not be impacted as they would have been if DST started later in the day. Sunday was chosen because most people do not work on Sundays so the change impacts the fewest people.
Most folks just move their clocks ahead the next morning. There are those oblivious souls who have no idea of the time change till they miss a big game on TV or are late for Sunday dinner with the in-laws.
4. Do all 50 states go on Daylight Saving Time?
Hawaii and Arizona don’t nor do the U.S. territories like American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
5. Do farmers like it?
Not particularly, since they say it confuses the farm animals, particularly cows, which are used to being fed, milked and tended to at certain times.
6. Does the rest of the world use DST?
It depends where in the world you are. Talk about a Tower of Babel. Figuring out the time shift around the globe is like tackling a Clock of Babble.
For instance, Australia’s Lord Howe Island only uses a half hour shift. And different countries have experimented with twenty-minute shifts or as long as two hours.
7. What are the drawbacks to DST?
A 2008 study by the New England Journal of Medicine found a 5.1% increase in heart attacks in moving to DST, but no adverse effects were found by moving the clock back an hour in the fall.
And two 2009 Journal of Applied Psychology studies showed that workplace accidents in construction and mining jumped by 5.7% the first day back to work after the clocks move forward.
8. Does everyone like DST?
Nope, and there is a petition drive on the “We the People” White House website to have it eliminated, claiming that studies have shown the time change is a health risk [see #7], leading to a loss in productivity. Plus the petitioners say DST is “really annoying.” So far not enough people have signed it to make it eligible to be considered by the President.
Now that you know facts and stats of Daylight Saving Time, you are all ready for the big moment this Sunday, the unofficial welcome of spring. Spring those clocks ahead by one hour.
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