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Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins on March 12, 2023. On this day, most North Americans will "lose" an hour by moving their clocks forward sixty minutes. The simple action will allow residents to enjoy longer days in spring and summer.
Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea of changing the clocks in 1784. The American inventor suggested it in a letter to the Journal de Paris as a way to save candles. But he was not serious. Several other individuals tried to convince their governments to change the clocks in the ensuing years. But their requests were never seriously considered.
The residents of Port Arthur and Fort William (now Thunder Bay) in Ontario, Canada, were the first to start observing DST in 1908. But, the idea did not catch on until Germany implemented it in 1916. German officials believed the longer day would help save coal needed to produce weapons and bombs for World War I.
A few other countries, including the USA and Great Britain, adopted the custom soon after. However, they all reverted to Standard Time once the war ended. DST was reinstated during World War II. The US government repealed the custom nationally once the conflict ended in 1945. But states and districts were allowed to continue the tradition. They could even determine their own DST start and end dates.
This turned out to be a bad idea. By 1965, Iowa alone had 23 pairs of DST start and end dates. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 resolved the issue by setting the same DST start and end dates for the entire country. But the law was not mandatory. So, Hawaii, most of Arizona, and the five US territories — American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands — opted out.
DST start and end dates were initially set for the final Sundays in April and October, respectively. However, they have been changed multiple times since. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan moved the DST start date to the first Sunday in April. In 2005, President George W. Bush moved 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. The loss of an hour is believed to cause sleep deprivation and fatigue. This leads to a drop in workplace productivity and an increase in traffic accidents.
Over the years, many states have passed bills to eliminate DST. However, they have all been turned down by federal lawmakers. The European Union voted in favor of removing DST permanently in 2019. But the change has yet to go into effect.
Experts have a few ideas to make DST more bearable. Wake up an hour or two earlier this Friday and Saturday. This will allow your body and mind to prepare for the time change. Going to bed an hour earlier on Saturday will also help make the transition smoother.
Happy "Spring Forward!"
Resources: Wikipedia.org, CNBC.com, Timeanddate.com