On November 6, 2016 our clocks “fall back.” This means an extra hour of sleep and early nightfall. Daylight saving time (DST) has been around for decades, but do we really know where it started and why? History tells us that it was an idea before it became federally enforced and explains why we started it to begin with.
Though he didn’t call it daylight saving time, Benjamin Franklin was the first to formulate the idea in 1784. During a visit to Paris, Franklin realized that people often slept during the early sunny mornings of summer and burnt candles in the evening as a source of light. He felt it was more practical to rise earlier so people could enjoy daylight later in the day. Over 120 years later, a man by the name of William Willett, living right outside of London, generated the notion to move clocks forward to force people to get up near sunrise.
In 1883, the U.S. railroad industry established official time zones with a set standard time within each zone. This gave more sync to DST. By World War I, the Germans thought daylight saving time was a way to save energy, which soon had everyone else jumping on the ticking bandwagon. The U.S. finally adopted DST, and by 1919, it became unpopular, so the country stopped observing it. During World War II, DST was utilized again and referred to as “War Time.” It was observed year-round from 1942 until 1945. There was no federal law enforcing the idea from 1945 to 1966, resulting in states and municipalities having the freedom to observe it how they chose. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act that gave specific parameters to daylight saving time and it would begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October. Then, 20 years later, a federal law was amended and DST began earlier.
For years, the United States was used to the change occurring at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in April and ending at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in October. In 2005, Congress created the Energy Policy Act which changed everything. Since 2007, we all set our clocks at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March and end by falling back an hour at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November. Though it has been a yo-yo of time changes, this November, enjoy that extra hour of sleep, or maybe even get up as usual and get more done. The choice is yours!