Daylight Savings Time

Why we spring forward

Jackie Ozanich, Managing Editor

   On Sunday, March 12 at 2:00am, Americans across the country, besides those in Hawaii and Arizona, changed their clocks forward one hour, until Sunday, November 5, at 2:00am when they will change their clocks back an hour, in the never-ending cycle of Daylight Savings Time (DST), despite many bills to abolish this system. 

     The U.S. originally adopted DST to conserve fuel during wartime, according to the University of Colorado in Boulder, but is now used to maximize sunlight and working hours. 

     Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida proposed the Sunshine Protection Act on March 9, 2021, in hopes of making DST permanent standard time across the nation, excluding Arizona and Hawaii, who don’t use DST. The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate in March 2022 and was supposed to go into effect Nov 5, 2023, but the bill didn’t get passed in the house because the 117 Congress didn’t end up voting on it.

     The idea behind the bill–to end the semi-annual clock changes–is agreed among most people, with less than 40% of countries in the world using the time change system, but the bill itself–which wants to permanently switch to DST instead of Standard Time–is controversial as many health experts, who’d rather have standard time as the permanent time, agree that more sunlight in the evenings and mornings disrupt the natural circadian rhythm, or the body’s biological clock, and when disrupted like this increases the chances of mental health problems, obesity, and heart disease increase, according to Wright, director of Colorado University’s Sleep and Chronobiology Lab. On the other side, Rubio claimed adopting DST permanently would reduce crime, lower risk of heart attacks and car accidents, and encourage kids to play outside. The polls are split about whether DST or Standard Time is better–with 4 in 10 Americans favoring Standard Time and 3 in 10 favoring Daylight Savings Time–but the majority can agree that the clock change needs to end, with 7 in 10 Americans against the time changes, according to a poll conducted by the Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

       The modern concept of Daylight Savings Time is credited to New Zealand entomologist, George Hudson, who proposed a two-hour time shift to increase daylight hours after work, so he could have more time to go bug catching in 1895, according to National Geographic. Germany was the first to adopt the idea, and they changed their clocks for the first time on May 1, 1916, during World War I to conserve fuel. The United States adopted DST on March 19, 1918, but it was so unpopular that it was abolished after WWI. DST returned to the U.S. when president Franklin Roosevelt instituted year-round DST which he called “War Time” on Feb. 9, 1942, until Sept. 30, 1945. DST became standard in the U.S. due to the Uniform Time Act of 1966 which stated that on the last Sunday in April clocks would advance one hour at 2am, and on the last Sunday of October clocks would turn back one hour at 2am. Despite this, states can reject DST, as long as the whole state rejects it, and changes can and have been made. Due to the 1973 oil embargo, year-round DST was enacted by Congress from Jan. 1974 to April 1975 to conserve energy. 

      Today, the debate on DST still continues but not much has come from it, as seen by Missouri’s “New Standard Time Pact” which stated Missouri would exempt the whole state from DST if at least three neighboring states did so as well. In April 2021, Missouri’s House of Representatives passed the bill, but it stalled in the Senate and didn’t go into effect.