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On March 13, 2022, most North Americans will mark the start of Daylight Saving Time (DST) by "springing forward" an hour. The clock manipulation will result in the loss of sixty minutes of precious sleep or leisure time on Sunday. However, it will allow residents to enjoy longer days during the upcoming spring and summer months.
Benjamin Franklin was the first to suggest changing the clocks as a way to save candles in 1784. However, the American inventor, who penned his idea in a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris, was not serious. Several other individuals attempted to convince their governments to change the clocks in the ensuing years. But their requests fell on deaf ears.
The residents of Port Arthur and Fort William (now Thunder Bay) in Ontario, Canada, were the first to observe DST in 1908. However, it was not until Germany implemented it in 1916 in order to save coal during World War I, that DST started gaining momentum. American lawmakers adopted the custom during both World War I and World War II, but reverted back to Standard Time once the battles ended. However, US cities and towns were allowed to continue the ritual after the second war. They could even determine their own start and end dates.
Not surprisingly, this resulted in complete mayhem. By 1965, the state of Iowa alone boasted 23 pairs of DST start and end dates. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 resolved the issue by establishing the same DST start and end dates across the US. Since the law was not mandatory, Hawaii, the US territories — American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands — and most cities in Arizona opted out.
The DST start and end dates, initially set for the final Sundays in April and October respectively, have been changed twice. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan moved the start date to the first Sunday in April. In 2005, President George W. Bush moved up the “spring forward” date to the second Sunday in March and extended the “fall back” date to the first Sunday in November.
Though the dates vary, DST is observed in about 70 countries worldwide. Japan, India, and China are the only major industrialized countries that do not change their clocks. Despite its widespread use, the ritual is not very popular. Many people believe the loss of an hour causes sleep deprivation and fatigue, leading to a drop in productivity and more traffic and workplace accidents.
Over the years, 18 US states have passed resolutions to eliminate DST. However, the bills have all been rejected by federal legislators. While the European Union did vote to remove DST permanently in 2019, the change has yet to be implemented.
For those stuck with DST, experts suggest waking up an hour or two earlier this Friday and Saturday to let the body and mind adjust to the change. Going to bed an hour earlier on Saturday, and basking in the sun for a few hours on March 13, will also help make the transition smoother.
Happy "Spring Forward!"
Resources: Wikipedia.org, NBCchicago, timeanddate.com