UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
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It’s a tale as old as time (daylight saving time, that is). You set your clock for the correct hour, you get into bed, and you prepare yourself for the next day. You wake up, get dressed and go about your business. But something is just off. You don’t feel like you’ve saved any time at all. In fact, you feel as if you’ve lost about four hours of sleep. It seems almost inhumane that we must mess with our internal clocks so.
It’s hard enough to get the right amount of sleep each night. Throw in springing our clocks forward and losing a precious hour of rest, and it becomes near impossible. In fact, as many as 47 million people are sleep deprived, and 43 percent of Americans say they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep during the week. So why do we partake in the daylight saving tradition? Where did it come from? Who is to blame for this whole sorted affair?
What is DST?
If you need to point your finger somewhere, point it at Benjamin Franklin. That’s right, good old founding father Benjamin Franklin is the culprit. It was he who first had the thought to extend daylight hours into the evening in the warmest months of the year. It was he who planted the seeds that would later grow into the loss of your beloved sleep in exchange for more daylight. Franklin, who coined the phrase, “early to bed and early to rise,” first suggested the concept of daylight saving when he was serving as U.S. ambassador to France. It was then that Franklin wrote to a popular newspaper of the day about waking up at 6 in the morning and realizing that the sun rose far earlier than he did. Franklin asked the newspaper’s readers to imagine the resources that might be saved if everyone rose before noon and burned less midnight oil.
It wasn’t until World War I that the bigger picture for daylight saving was realized. Germany was the first to implement time changes to reduce artificial lighting on a broad scale. This resulted in saved coal for the war effort. Once realizing this method was effective, both allies and enemies soon followed suit. In the U.S. a federal law standardized the yearly start and end of daylight saving time in 1918 for those states who wished to participate.
It was during World War II that the U.S. made daylight saving time mandatory for the whole country. Between February 1942 and September 1945, daylight saving time was observed year-round. During the 1973 to 1974 Arab oil embargo, the U.S. again extended daylight saving time through the winter, resulting in a one percent decrease in the country’s electrical load. Thirty years later the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was enacted, mandating a monthlong extension of daylight saving time. And we have one early riser to thank for all this trouble.
So thank you, Benjamin, for making us spring forward in time and fall back on our sleep.
If you are suffering from time change sleep deprivation check out Boost Your Energy for tips about how you can push past the drowsiness.