With Halloween falling on a Monday this year, chances are you are feeling a little sleep-deprived. Here is some good news at least for those that live in North America. This weekend marks the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST), which means that on Sunday, November 6, you can enjoy an extra hour of sleep (or play) by simply turning back the clocks.
Increasing the length of the day was first suggested by Benjamin Franklin in 1784. However, the renowned polymath and Founding Father of the United States was not serious when he mentioned it in a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris, as a way to save candles.
When New Zealand entomologist George Hudson proposed the idea in 1895, he was hoping for two additional hours of daylight in the spring to pursue his favorite hobby — studying insects. Unfortunately, his suggestion fell on deaf years, as did British resident William Willett’s when he came up with it in 1907 as a way to save electricity.
It was not until April 1916, during World War I, that Germany adopted DST to reduce the use of artificial light and save fuel. The US, Britain, and a few other countries followed shortly after. But most reverted to Standard Time as soon as the war ended, only to reinstate it when World War II began.
Shortly after the second war ended, the US repealed DST nationally but allowed states and localities to continue the tradition and even decide the start and stop dates.
What seemed like a good idea turned into what Time Magazine dubbed a “chaos of clocks.” In 1965, Iowa alone had 23 distinct pairs of DST start and end dates. The confusion finally ended in 1966, when the US Congress passed a Uniform Time Act. However, since it was not mandatory, Hawaii and some cities in Arizona decided to opt out. This means the residents there never change their clocks.
The original law required DST to begin on the last Sunday of April and end the last Sunday of October. However, it has since been changed several times, effectively reducing the dark, dreary winter days by five weeks.
Losing and gaining the hour does result in some unintended consequences. The end of DST can alter the birth order of twins born around 2:00 am, when the clocks are officially changed. For example, if the first child is born at 1:45 am and the second one, twenty minutes later at 2:05 am, he/she would technically be the firstborn given that according to the manipulated clock, the time would be 1:05 am. Conversely, since we magically “lose” an hour when we “Spring Forward,” there are no babies born between 2:00 am and 3:00 am.
Train schedules also get affected by this change. Passengers traveling overnight via Amtrak this weekend will have to endure an extra hour of travel time because the trains come to a standstill between 2:00 am to 3:00 am to stay on schedule. During spring, trains are automatically an hour late and have to try to make up for the lost time. Fortunately, airplanes do not observe the same routine!
Also, many believe the time change has an adverse effect on people’s health, and there is a growing movement to get DST repealed. However, lawmakers are reluctant because of the purported negative impact the change could have on businesses. The Golf Alliance of Utah estimates that the extra playtime afforded by the longer days following the Spring DST earns the state $24 million USD! Hence, unless you live in Hawaii or Arizona, you have no choice but to turn back the time and enjoy the bonus hour this weekend!