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Saving Daylight?: Explaining that Extra Hour

Last Saturday night, students snuggled under their covers, rejoicing in the fact that an extra hour of sleep had gloriously been thrust upon them according to their calendars. However, most students don't know why the joys of Halloweekend included another sixty minutes of slumber.

Most understand that Daylight Saving Time is meant to make us adjust our clocks either forward or backward by an hour. When asking students why it exists, various responses had to do with the party scene. “It gets dark earlier so that people can get off work earlier and turn up,” said one anonymous student.

“Legend has it that Ben Franklin used to party really late so he needed an excuse to sleep in because he was late  to the Constitutional Convention.”

The most common response is that Daylight Savings has “something to do with farming hours.”

Do yourself a favor, make Ben Franklin proud for being a founding founder of an educated country, and learn eight things you did not know about Daylight Saving Time:

daylight1.    It is actually Daylight Saving Time -- not Daylight Saving’s Time.

The word “saving" acts as part of the adjective rather than the verb, so contrarily to popular belief, time does not actually belong to a mysterious entity named "Daylight Saving."

2.    Ben Franklin did not originate the idea of moving clocks forward.

After being woken by the summer sun in Paris, Franklin wrote an essay suggesting massive savings in the winter if the Parisians used sunshine instead of candles. Franklin is often credited with the invention of Daylight Saving Time, but he only suggested a change in sleep patterns, not time itself.

3.    It is commonly credited that Englishman William Willett led the first Daylight Saving Time campaign.

He believed that the U.K. was wasting daylight and wrote brochures pushing for the adoption of “summer time” in 1907.

4.    Germany was the first country to follow Daylight Saving Time in 1916.

Months later, Willett’s home place, the United Kingdom, followed suit.

farming 5.    Despite popular belief, Daylight Saving Time was not created to benefit the farmers.

American farmers actually lobbied against Daylight Saving Time when it was implemented as a wartime measure in 1918. The sun, rather than the clock, dictated farmers’ schedules, so the change was disruptive to them. Farmers had to wait an extra hour for morning dew to evaporate while harvesting hay and cows were not ready to be milked an hour earlier, yet people still went home at the same time for dinner. Businesses have been the ones to relish daylight savings, not rural interests.

 6.    The implementation of Daylight Saving Time was left to the discretion of local cities for decades.

In 1965, there were 23 different pairs of start and end dates in Iowa alone. Passengers on a 35-mile bus route from Ohio to West Virginia passed through seven time changes. Finally, in 1966, the Uniform Time Act was passed, which standardized the start of Daylight Saving Time on the last Sunday in April.

Countries in blue use Daylight Saving while countries in orange have in the past and countries in red never have. Image via Omar35880/Wikimedia Commons.

Countries in blue use DST while countries in orange have in the past and countries in red never have.
Image via Omar35880/Wikimedia Commons.

7.    Not everyone in the US partakes in Daylight Saving Time.

Both Hawaii and Arizona do not observe Daylight Saving Time, along with three quarters of the world's population. Many countries near the equator do not observe the time change since their daylight hours vary little from season to season.

 8.    Evidence does not show energy conservation as a result of DST.

Most calculations show a 1-2% savings on electric charges, yet the additional demand for air conditioning on summer nights counteracts this. Others also argue that there is increased recreational activity, which results in more gasoline use.

In the spring when you complain about that hour of sleep you lost, now at least you’ll know that it's not because someone out there wants to disrupt your party schedule.

Images via Getty Images.
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