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“Falling Back” for Daylight Saving Time: When Is It and Why Do We Do It?

Starting Sunday, we’ll awake to more sunlight in the morning and leave work in the evenings to darker skies. It’s time to “fall back” an hour.

That’s right, Daylight Saving Time (note it’s not Daylight Savings Time; something I never knew before now) is ending in the wee hours of Sunday morning, Nov. 3.—2 a.m. precisely. Don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour Saturday night, and enjoy that extra hour of sleep.

But have you ever wondered why we fall back? All we’re doing is returning to standard time after eight months of Daylight Saving Time, which is the concept of using less energy to light our homes and offices and instead taking advantage of more hours of sunlight.

Random facts about Daylight Saving Time (DST):

  • Benjamin Franklin is said to have “invented” the idea of DST in 1784, if you will, even though the U.S. didn’t adopt the idea until much later. Apparently, Franklin was on a trip to Paris when he decided that the world could save resources by making better use of sunlight. He even wrote an essay called “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” in support of his proposition. Now you know why he said “early to bed, early to rise.” 
  • DST started in America during World War I “in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October,” according to Matt Rosenberg. 
  • Germany was the first country to implement DST in order to save coal resources for the impending war (WWI). 
  • From 1945 to 1966, DST reportedly really confused mass transporters like trains and buses, as well as broadcasters because the start and end of DST wasn’t specified. Then, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which said that if states observe DST, it must start on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October (which has since changed to starting on the second Sunday of March and ending the first Sunday of November).
  • The U.S. government doesn’t say that the states HAVE to observe DST. Did you know that people in Arizona, Hawaii and Puerto Rico don’t set their clocks back or forward? 
  • Some people really aren’t fans of DST, especially in the winter months when it gets dark in the 6 o’ clock hour. It’s still being debated whether it actually saves energy and whether it might have adverse effects on humans, like loss of sleep and decreased productivity. 

What do you think? Are you ready to fall back an hour?

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Friday, November 1, 2013