Show of hands: who’s excited to “fall back” this Sunday? Some think the illusion of an extra hour of sleep is completely worth it. While others bemoan the fact that it starts getting dark at 4:30 p.m.
According to Congressional Research, daylight saving was originally put in place to give people more daylight hours to work and do other activities. Conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 at the time when he was Minister to France, Franklin felt it was only natural that when it was dark outside, more people would be sleeping and that extending daytime hours according to season would increase productivity.
William Willet proposed that daylight saving time be adopted in British Parliament because doing work and other activities in daylight hours would reduce demand on artificial light. Germany began observing daylight saving to conserve fuel during World War I.
The U.S. went through a lot of back-and-forth regarding daylight saving. The practice was adopted in 1918, abolished for unpopularity after WWI and reinstated during WWII — at this time it was called War Time and took place year round. Several states maintained daylight saving after this ended but it caused much angst to the transportation industry that pushed for uniformed timezones. After the Uniform Time Act of 1966 was passed, states could choose to participate in daylight saving, but the whole state had to adhere to the decision, but now states can split if they are also split according to time zone.
Aside from fuel and energy savings, safety of children headed to school, better operating hours for farmers and the fact that people just like long summer days have been used as popular reasons for daylight saving. Although it seems to have all these positive effects, a 2009 Michigan State University study correlated the time change in favor of summer hours with an increase in workplace injuries. The study found that workers slept about 40 minutes less per night during daylight swings.
Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands don’t participate in daylight saving. Indiana used to be split, but opted for daylight saving in 2005. Arizona, for example, doesn’t observe daylight saving due to its extreme heat, which would negate any energy savings by lengthening an already hot day.
This post has been updated.