Every spring we set our clocks forward an hour for Daylight Saving Time (DST), giving us one more sweet hour of sunlight every day for months. But have you ever been in the process of resetting your clock and thought “why the heck do we have Daylight Saving Time?”
We wondered the same thing. It turns out Daylight Saving Time isn’t based on some law of nature or to help farmers get more done in a day. But the practice of moving the clock forward dates back over 100 years in the U.S.
The year was 1918, and World War I was well underway. In an effort to conserve energy, Congress passed the Standard Time Act of 1918. The act standardized times across the states using the still-existing time zones and established that the time would be set back one hour for a specified number of months so there would be more hours of light at the end of the day.
Daylight Saving Time wasn’t enacted again until World War II. Once more DST was used as a way to save on energy and was even nicknamed “War Time”. The second time around it lasted from 1942 to 1945.
By 1966 Congress took action to simplify matters with the Uniform Time Act. The act set a standard time for the entire country war or no war so that everyone would be on the same page.
But what about Daylight Saving Time?
The Uniform Time Act established that Daylight Saving Time would start on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday in October. The dates have been adjusted slightly over the years so that Daylight Saving Time lasts a little longer. Ever since 2005, DST starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.
Very soon we might know for sure if year-round DST works. In March of 2022 the U.S. Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent starting in 2023. But the bill has stalled as health experts weigh in on the effect of using DST year round. The concern is that a later sunrise could throw off people’s circadian rhythms leading to a number of health problems.
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