Daylight Saving Time allows for more sunshine during spring and summer (Credit: CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Winter is almost over — at least when it comes to the clocks. On March 10, 2024, most Americans will mark the start of "Daylight Saving Time" (DST) by moving their clocks ahead an hour. The time change will result in a loss of sixty minutes of precious sleep or play time on Sunday. However, it will allow for longer days during the spring and summer months.

Benjamin Franklin was the first to suggest changing the clocks to save candles in 1784. However, the American inventor was not serious. Several other individuals tried to persuade their governments to change the clocks in the ensuing years. But none succeeded.

DST began to gain traction after Germany adopted it in 1916 to conserve coal during World War I. The US and Britain adopted the practice shortly after. All the countries reverted to Standard Time once the war ended, only to reinstate it during World War II. US officials repealed DST once the war ended in 1945. However, states and districts were allowed to continue the tradition. They could even select their own start and stop DST dates. This resulted in a lot of confusion. By 1965, the state of Iowa alone had 23 pairs of DST start and end dates.

Countries worldwide practice DST (Credit: CC-BY-SA-2.0)

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 resolved the issue by establishing the same DST start and end dates across the US. But the law was not mandatory. So, Hawaii, most of Arizona, and the US territories — American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands — opted out.

The DST start and end dates were initially set for the last Sundays in April and October. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan moved the 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. He also 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 custom is not very popular. Many people believe the loss of an hour causes sleep deprivation and fatigue. This leads to a drop in productivity and more traffic and workplace accidents.

Many people want DST to be eliminated (Credit: Data for Progress/ CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Over the years, 19 US states have passed resolutions to eliminate DST. However, the bills have all been turned down by lawmakers. The European Union did pass a law to remove DST in 2019. But 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. This will allow the body and mind to adjust to the time change. Going to bed an hour earlier on Saturday will also help make the transition smoother.

Happy "Spring Forward!"