Daytime Explained

What Is Daylight Saving Time and How Does It Work? The interval between spring and fall when many people set their clocks forward one hour is known as daylight saving time (DST). People in the United States currently "spring forward" by moving

their clocks forward an hour on the second Sunday in March and "fall back" by moving their clocks back an hour on the first Sunday in November. The biannual changing of the clocks in Europe, where daylight saving time is commonly referred to as "summer time," begins in late March or early April and finishes in September or October.

Daylight saving time is observed in roughly 76 countries, with a population of over 1.6 billion people. Many countries near the equator, on the other hand, do not change their clocks periodically because daylight hours in that location are rather stable throughout the year.

When did Daylight Saving Time start and when did it end?
People argue about who started daylight saving time and when it started. Some say Benjamin Franklin was the first to advocate changing the clocks in the summer to allow for more daylight. Franklin stated in a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris in 1784 that starting and finishing the day based on sunrise and sunset would save energy and eliminate candle waste.

Several other cities proposed similar ideas over the next few decades, but Port Arthur, Canada, is credited with becoming the first city in the world4 to implement daylight saving time in 1908. Germany was the first country to implement daylight saving time in 1916, in order to save gasoline during World War I. The rest of Europe and eventually the United States soon followed.

Farmers in the United States protested to the continuation of daylight saving time after World War I ended because they did not want to lose one hour of morning light. During World War II, the United States reestablished daylight saving time by keeping clocks steadily advanced for more than two years. Until the Uniform Time Act, adopted by Congress in 1966, daylight saving time was not regularly observed across the country during non-war times.

What Is the Purpose of Daylight Saving Time?
Daylight saving time was instituted in order to save energy. The broad consensus was that adding an hour of daylight to the evening would cut domestic electricity consumption. There is, however, no evidence that the change in time results in lower energy consumption.

A study undertaken by the United States Department of Transportation in 1975 revealed that daylight saving time saved around 1% of energy, but a follow-up analysis concluded that the results were statistically insignificant. According to a 2008 study, Daylight Saving Time really increases household electricity consumption and pollution.

In the early discussions of energy conservation and daylight saving time, lighting was a crucial factor. Lighting, on the other hand, has gotten more energy efficient over time. Other elements, such as heating and cooling, may currently have a greater impact on energy consumption.

Is it necessary to keep Daylight Saving Time indefinitely?
The majority of states in the United States observe daylight saving time. Only Arizona and Hawaii6 are the only states in the United States that do not change their clocks in the spring and fall. However, between 2015 and 2019, 29 states in the United States submitted legislation in support of year-round daylight saving time7, with the hopes of avoiding the procedure of changing clocks twice a year.

According to a 2020 study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 63 percent of Americans support the abolition of seasonal time changes and would prefer a year-round national time. Sudden time changes can have a cascade of negative consequences, including an increase in occupational injuries, owing to sleep deprivation. However, there is still great controversy about whether permanent daylight saving time or permanent standard time, which is the time used during non-daylight saving time months, should be utilized nationally.

Permanent Daylight Savings Time: 

Reduce the Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack: Studies demonstrate that the two yearly daylight saving time changes increase the number of strokes and heart attacks. However, further research is needed to see if ending daylight saving time would genuinely reduce the total number of strokes and heart attacks in the long run.

Reduce Seasonal Depression: According to one study, the transition from daylight saving time to standard time increased the number of depressive episodes. The authors concluded that the increase was most likely caused by the loss of an hour at sunset, which serves as a biological cue that shorter, colder winter days are on the way.

Extending daylight saving time may encourage people to spend more time outside. During daylight saving time, 62 percent more people are seen walking and 38 percent more individuals are seen riding a bicycle, according to one study.

Benefit the Economy: According to a JPMorgan Chase Institute study, the start of daylight saving time in the spring results in a 0.9 percent increase in daily card spending per capita in the Los Angeles area, while the end of daylight saving time results in a 3.5 percent decrease in daily card spending per capita.

Reduce Car Crashes and Crime: The United States Department of Transportation asserts that extending daylight saving time saves lives because fewer people drive after dark, resulting in fewer car accidents. They also believe that extending daylight saving time reduces crime by reducing the number of people out after dark. People use these claims to conclude that extending daylight saving time all year would result in fewer car accidents and crimes.

Arguments for a Universal Time System
Some say that staying in standard time all year makes more sense from a biological standpoint than using daylight saving time all year. Those in favor of establishing permanent standard time have suggested that it would have the following advantages.

Promote proper circadian alignment: Light has an impact on our body in a variety of ways, including how we feel sleepy and awake. Standard time, according to the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is more in tune with the body's innate biological clocks or circadian rhythm. These specialists believe that if the circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can lead to a cascade of other health problems, including cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.

Minimize Car Crashes: While some say that permanent daylight saving time will reduce car crashes, others argue that permanent standard time will do the same. According to one study, fatal car crashes increased by 6% after the switch to daylight saving time in the spring. Mornings were especially dangerous, and researchers believe that an extra hour of daylight in the mornings would reduce fatal car accidents dramatically.

Promote Productivity and Benefit the Economy: When people switch to daylight saving time, they often lose sleep for the first night or two. Some say that because sleep is linked to productivity, sleep loss could have a detrimental impact on the economy. In addition, one study found that adding just one extra hour of sleep per night can raise income by 16 percent over time. If a year-round standard time improves productivity and the economy, it may be a win-win situation.

People believe that a year-round standard time will keep children safer by minimizing the amount of time they have to wait for school buses or walk to school in the morning darkness during daylight saving time. According to a 2017 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities happen at night. 

Wnctimes by Marjorie Farrington March 15, 2022

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