Daylight Saving Time: A brief history of turning back the clock

1083
Daylight Saving Time
The Lansing Clocktower at Park Plaza. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
By Landon Ford

LANSING, Ill. (November 5, 2021) – Lansing residents are getting ready to change the hands of time, because Daylight Saving Time is quickly coming to an end. On November 7 at 2:00 a.m., time will “fall” back to 1:00 a.m. (Central Time), giving people an extra hour of sleep.

A history of changing clocks

So how did daylight saving time get started in the first place and is there any chance of it permanently ending any time soon?

First of all, the bi-annual tradition is properly called Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time. DST is commonly traced back to a satirical comment made in an essay by Ben Franklin of 1784: “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

On May 1, 1916, during World War I, DST was adopted by the German Empire to conserve fuel. The United States also adopted this tactic, but abolished it after the war on March 19, 1918, due to unpopularity. It was also instituted on February 9 through September 1945 by President Franklin Roosevelt, who dubbed it “War Time.”

Daylight Saving Time wasn’t standard in the U.S. until the passage of the Uniform Time Act of 1966, when the country was establishing time zones. The act stated that clocks would advance one hour at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in April and turn back one hour at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in October. States could exempt themselves from DST if the entire state did. In January of 1974 through April 1975; the U.S. Congress enacted a period trial to conserve energy.

Daylight Saving debates

In the vein of energy conservation, one early argument for observing Daylight Saving Time was to save energy. That thought has been largely proven false by studies that have shown that any energy saved due to a reduction in light use is offset by an increased use of air conditioning and heat.

Some DST proponents argue that the practice is great for longer evenings, less artificial light, and a safer environment due to an extra hour of light. Some others opposed to the practice claim that it should not be observed due to financial reasons — a collective tiredness that can reduce productivity. Additionally, some think it can make people sick due to a disruption in their body clocks. It can also potentially affect someone’s health to the point of depression and sudden heart attacks, some say.

Preparations and recommendations

To prepare for the event, below are some common recommendations:

  • The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal encourages residents to “Change your clock, change your batteries,” referring to changing batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. In Illinois, smoke alarms are required on every floor of a house and within 15 feet of every bedroom.
  • Gradually adjusting one’s sleep schedule is recommended. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises trying to slowly adjust your schedule by going to bed around 15-20 minutes earlier each day leading up to the changing of one’s clocks.
  • Avoiding alcohol, heavy dinners, and napping is encouraged.
  • Exercising steadily is also recommended.
  • Staying off electronics an hour before bed is another stategy.
  • For caregivers of individuals that have Alzheimer’s: The Alzheimer’s Association recommends caregivers of persons who experience sundowning help the individual get plenty of rest, reduce stimulation during the evening hours, and keep the home well-lit in the evening and early morning.

1 COMMENT

  1. Excellent, informative piece. I have read a lot of opinion about DST, but this was a balance and detailed explanation of the facts. Thank you.

Comments are closed.