Did you enjoy an extra hour of sleep this Sunday morning?
On November 6th at 2 a.m., clocks in the United States will be set back by an hour. It is part of an annual ritual called 'Fall Back" when clocks add an extra hour to the day to match waking hours of people to the hours when there is sunlight.
But why mess with time? We all know that the earth's tilt on its axis creates seasons. During summer months, the Northern hemisphere is soaked in sunlight, and during winter, the hours of sunlight are less.
William Willett, a British builder who enjoyed the outdoors, observed that most people were wasting a good part of the day sleeping when the sun was shining, especially during the summer months. Willett circulated the idea of changing the clocks every spring and resetting it in the Fall, among members of parliament, town officials and other organizations in 1907 England. While Willett's idea was ridiculed in the beginning, it was adopted in Europe in 1917.
Meanwhile, the idea of changing the clocks in the United States can be traced to Benjamin Franklin. He felt that people could conserve energy and revel in an extra hour of daylight if they moved their clocks forward in the spring. However, the United States didn't implement the clock modification as a way to save fuel until May 1916, in the midst of World War I. When World War I was raging, DST helped conserve fuel and keep factories that produced wartime machinery open for a longer time. However, when the war came to an end, so did DST in some cities.
Making It Permanent
With different cities in the U.S adopting different time rules, things started to break down. When it was discovered that on a bus traveling from West Virginia to Ohio, passengers had to endure seven time-changes, the U.S. government decided to adopt a DST standard. The Uniform Time Act went into effect in April 1966. Today it is unclear whether daylight saving really does save energy.
Though loved by some and hated by others, the six-monthly ritual of turning the clock has surprising implications. It can be rough on the health of some as the body clock needs to reset to the altered time. Some towns believe that a change in work hours could save fuel because of reduced consumption of heating and lighting in offices. But not everyone agrees that these savings hold in today's industrialized societies.
While the debate rages on between the benefits and drawbacks of changing the clock, enjoy an extra hour of snoozing in the bed.