Daylight saving time is here again! Happy 100th anniversary to the most debated schedule change in American history.
You know the drill: At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 11, all of your internet-connected devices will hop ahead one hour. When you wake up later in the morning, having lost one full hour of sleep, you’ll need to reset your unconnected devices manually.
Grumble though we may, there once was a good reason to observe daylight saving time – the federal government first ordered the time shift in 1918 as a way to conserve coal during World War I. While that doesn’t explain why we continue to observe the great forward spring in 2018, here’s hoping those patriotic origins ease your Sunday morning pain somewhat.
Here are some other fun DST facts you may not have known.
- While daylight saving time was used in the U.S. during both world wars, it was not standardized during peacetime until 1966.
- During the energy crisis of the 1970s, Congress forced states to go on daylight saving time from January 1974 until April 1975. Many parents protested at the prospect of children having to wait for school buses in the dark.
- In the 1980s, 7-Eleven and Clorox (parent company of Kingsford Charcoal) were major players in a campaign to extend daylight saving time. The effort was successful – Congress extended DST by 3 weeks starting in 1986.
- Two decades later, President George W. Bush signed a bill putting the modern DST schedule into effect starting in 2007. Moving the dates to the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday of November was seen as a win for both the airline industry, and the all-powerful Halloween candy lobby.
- These days, states can opt in or out of DST whenever and however they want. Currently, Arizona and Hawaii are the only states that do not observe the practice (although some Native American reservations within Arizona do spring forward and back with the rest of the U.S.).
- Daylight saving time lasts eight months out of the year. As we speak, some 26 states are considering extending it year-round. Such a measure could take effect in Florida as soon as this fall.
- The practice is called daylight saving time, singular. “Savings” with an extra “s” is technically incorrect.
- On a national scale, it’s not clear that DST saves much energy. Modern studies have shown that DST may reduce indoor lighting use a bit, but may also increase the use of heating and air conditioning.
- Historically, farmers have had a complicated relationship with daylight saving time. While urban legend holds that DST was created in part to help the farm industry, various farm groups have protested the practice since its earliest days.
- DST is kind of dangerous. Studies have found that upticks in fatal crashes, workplace trouble, heart attacks and strokes all seem to accompany the time change.
But it’s not really the clock we should be blaming – it’s our own lack of sleep and foresight. Researchers have found that going to bed a bit early and laying off the alcohol on Saturday night will all but cure those DST blues.
So crawl out of bed, go for a jog, wake up the kids and cook something special for breakfast. It’s only an hour, after all.