Love it or hate it, it’s that time of year again, when we set our clocks one hour ahead, and lose an hour of sleep.
This Sunday at 2:00 a.m. is the official beginning of Daylight Saving Time in most areas of the U.S.
If it seems to you like this day used to come later in the year, you’re right. Prior to 2007, when the Energy Act of 2005 took effect, we used to “spring forward” during the first week of April and “fall back” during the final weekend of October. Now, we begin Daylight Saving Time on the second Sunday in March and end it during the first week of November.
In our 2007 edition, we published a campaign called How Much Daylight are We Really Saving? In it, we questioned both the former and new DST dates and proposed a new system we thought would work better.
According to U.S. law, states can choose whether or not to observe DST. At present, Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Nation) and Hawaii, plus a few other U.S. territories, are the only places in the U.S. that do not observe DST and stay on standard time all year long. Indiana did not vote to observe DST until April of 2006. Prior to that, some counties in the state did observe it while others didn’t, which caused a lot of confusion, particularly since Indiana is already split into two time zones already.
At least 40 countries worldwide observe Daylight Saving Time, including most of Canada, though the majority of Saskatchewan and parts of northeastern British Columbia don’t participate.
How you feel about Daylight Saving Time probably depends on whether you are an early riser or a night owl. Obviously, changing the number on a clock doesn’t actually add any time onto our days. That point was eloquently made in this old joke:
“When told the reason for daylight savings time the Old Indian said, ‘Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.'”
However, adding an hour of daylight onto the end of the day, after most of us have gotten out of work, can feel like a gift after a long winter of dark evenings. As the warmer spring weather arrives, nothing could be nicer than having more time in the evening to enjoy it.
Ben Franklin is often credited for inventing the idea of Daylight Saving Time, due to this partially tongue-in-cheek letter. However, Franklin seemed to understand the point of view of the Old Indian in the joke above. Rather than changing the clocks, he simply advised us to change our schedules to better align with nature.