What’s the deal with daylight savings time?

Amelia Symons, Staff Writer

On Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 in the morning, we set our clocks back an hour for the end of this year’s daylight savings time. We fell back an hour into the standard daylight savings time. The whole point of changing our clocks forward an hour in the spring and back an hour in the fall is to make better use of daylight. When we move the clocks forward in the Spring, we get an extra hour of daylight in the evening, which is why the sun doesn’t set until after 8pm in the summer. When we change the clocks back an hour in the fall, it gives us an extra hour of daylight in the morning, which is why the sun rises around 6am. 

The dates for daylight savings time differ depending on the country. For instance, in the United States, the daylight savings time period goes from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. Canada has the same daylight savings time period that the United States has. In Australia, daylight savings time starts on the first Sunday of October and ends on the first Sunday in April. In Spain and most other European countries, the daylight savings time period goes from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.  

There is a myth saying that daylight savings time began long ago when farmers would need the extra hour of daylight to work in their fields. The current daylight savings time system that the United States follows began in 2007. The original idea of daylight savings dates back to the time of Benjamin Franklin in 1784 when he wrote his ideas in a journal and sent it to Paris. Daylight savings time was not widely used until about a century after Franklin came up with it, and some countries implemented it during World War 1. The idea of daylight savings became very popular in 1966 when it standardized the system and passed the Uniform Time Act, but states are not required to follow daylight savings time. For example, Hawaii and most of Arizona do not participate. Only 70 out of 195 countries worldwide participate. 

People often question the point or reason for daylight savings, and if it actually works. That answer can be debated. Often times, doing daylight savings can help lower energy consumption. With more hours of daylight, we use less energy. Historians don’t know if saving the small amount of energy for only a fraction of the year is worth all of the hassle with changing the clocks. 

A few researchers at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center have found that changing the clocks twice a year may cause some long-term health consequences. The human body is very dependent on cycles, as most other living things are. Short-term consequences of daylight savings are loss of sleep, increased risk of stroke and heart attack, slower cognitive skills, and slower reaction times, which can lead to more car accidents. Some people are more sensitive to the extra hour of sleep or the one hour less of sleep, and the change can mess with them for the whole eight months during the daylight savings time, not just a day or two after the clocks are changed.

Whether or not you like changing your clocks twice a year, daylight savings time is backed up by good reason and evidence and has shown to be beneficial for the countries that use it.