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Daylight Savings Time

March 7th, 2020 · No Comments · City Library, Main Branch, West Branch

Daylight savings starts on March 8th, at 1am, and if you’re like me, it’s one of your least favorite times of the year. We set our clocks forward this Sunday from 1am to 2am, losing an entire hour or sleep.  As a kid I hated having to wake up an hour early for church on daylight saving’s Sunday, and when I complained, my parents said the extra hour of sunlight was to help farmers so they would have more light during work hours. However, upon further research, I’ve discovered this to not be entirely true.

What we now know as ‘Daylight Savings Time’ started in 1916 during WWI by the German Empire and their allies, Austria-Hungary. The idea was to save coal during war time by waking everyone up an hour earlier with the sun, and going to bed an hour earlier when it got dark. This method was adopted by Great Britain and its allies, including the US, and most countries ended the practice once the war was over in 1918. US President Woodrow Wilson, however, vetoed Congress’ attempt to repeal the wartime hours, because he liked the extra hour of sunlight he got to spend playing golf. Congress overrode his second veto, and the hours went back to normal until the next war.

Following WWII, daylight savings hours were optional on a state-by-state basis, but due to conflicts in scheduling, Congress enacted the Uniform Act of 1966 mandating each state participate. The practice was appreciated by outdoor recreational and tourism industries, but disliked by those in agriculture – because animals wake up when the sun comes up, not when the clock tells them to. The 1973 Oil Embargo created an energy crisis, enforcing the need for daylight savings time. The hours were increased to March through November in 2007 in the 2005 Energy Act, and studies show it resulted in a 0.03% decrease in energy spending. With modern green energy technology, surely there’s an easier and more efficient way to save on energy costs that doesn’t affect our mental and physical health?

A German study between 2006 and 2015 found an increase in deaths caused by suicide, cardiac disease, and traffic accidents shortly after the spring time change. According to the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms, the one hour time change negatively affects cardiac function, weight, and cancer risk. These seem like drastic outcomes of an antiquated method for conserving energy. Many states have passed state laws to eliminate daylight savings time, or to permanently stick with ‘summer time’ hours, but they cannot go into effect until Congress repeals or amends the Uniform Act of 1966. To find out more information, visit the Lock the Clock website, or check out this article in the Union Leader on the effects changing time has on health.

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