Daylight – But Not People – Saving Time

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Well, good morning all you sleepy heads. The government has decreed you’ve lost an hour of your life commencing at 2:00 a.m. this morning or was that 3:00 a.m.? Stretching back to the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin in his 1784 essay,  An Economical Project, the hoary practice has become the ritual of Spring and Fall as we all spring ahead or fall backward in the  marker of days we call “time.”

Daylight Saving Time (“DST”) was first enacted in to US law in 1918 as an energy-saving measure  designed to cut electrical demand from lights and appliances.  In Summer the argument goes, more people are away from their homes enjoying outdoor activities and thus less demand for electricity. A DOT study in 1975 seemed to confirm the rationale finding it saves about 1% per day from the nation’s energy diet. A 1976 report by the National Bureau of Standards disputed the DOT report citing more energy use during the Winter months.

 The first law provided the option for DST for localities, but during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt instituted year-round Daylight Saving Time, called “War Time,” from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act (“UTA”) to try to get a handle on the hodgepodge of state and local laws dealing with the time change. Any state could exempt itself, however by mere passage of a law declining to adopt the practice.

On the heels of the Arab Oil Embargo, President Richard Nixon signed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973 which mandated the time shifting. Congress variously amended the Act to permit a return to Standard Time and then back to Daylight Saving Time throughout the mid-70s.

A 1972 amendment to the UTA limited the right of states to exempt itself from DST. In 1986, a uniform stop and start date was enacted by Congress but some exemptions remained. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. beginning in 2007, though Congress retained the right to revert to the 1986 law should the change prove unpopular or if energy savings were not significant. About 70 nations utilize some form of DST.

What the government couldn’t have known when the DST was started was that our biological clocks don’t mesh so nicely with energy policy.  A study at Loyola University School of Medicine found that there are more workplace accidents and traffic collisions the day after we turn the clocks head. In addition, incidence of heart attacks in the US jump an astounding 10%. The worst repercussion may fall on those who are chronically sleep deprived. US estimates put the habitually sleepy at around 33% of the population.

So have that second cup of coffee this Sunday morning. You’ll need it.

Sources:  Yahoo; Web exhibits

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

23 thoughts on “Daylight – But Not People – Saving Time”

  1. I am wide awake at One fourteen a.m. and I am not a bit tired. If it was not for this computer I would not have known about Spring Forward. Then I read this history and I am totally intrigued. Growing up I never paid attention to Spring Forward or Fall Back. I thought that was Army talk. I do not wear a watch and get up at daylight. It will be the same tomorrow. I will get up at daylight. I will go out over the fields, across to the river and out on the boat and ask the Coots and Ducks what time it is and all I will get is a goot and a quake! I will explain the history to them and show them a real clock. Beyond that I wont be able to explain the history of the time change thing to them. The pea crop will not care about the time change. But I will. Thanks.

  2. Thank you Sherry. I went out and sat with her for a while late this afternoon. Maybe I will be able to sleep tonight. Maybe not. We’ll see.

  3. Dearest OS, my deepest condolences. My thoughts are with you, and I hope that a peaceful night’s rest will be yours again soon. –Sherry

  4. A young immigrant working in a NY hotel thought the other workers were again trying to trick her, this time by getting her to set the alarm an hour earlier. That night when she heard the newsman say the same thing, the immigrant thought, “These Americans! They believe they can do anything — they don’t like what time it is, they just change it!”

  5. When I was in the Army, a great time to go onto Frankfurt. Last train left for Hanau at about one, clubs closed about 2:30. First train back was at 4:55, so 2:30 became 3:30, and only an hour and a half before the train. Woe be unto those who got it confused in the fall. Same benefits/detriments to staff duty assignments.

  6. DST Creep is what bugs me! The adjustment days aren’t bad, but DST is getting longer and longer, soon we’ll be back to “War Time”!

    1945-1966 end of April to end of Sept for those areas observing = 5 months
    1966-(1985) end of April to end of Oct = 6 mo.
    1986-2006 beginning of April to end of Oct = 7 mo.
    2007- forever? beginning of MARCH-end of Oct = 8 mo!!!!!!!

    to somebody who was a kid before 1966 (moi, of course; 18 in 1966), it was reasonable at 5 months, but is just stupid at 8 months. of course, I don’t golf or run a retail business, but DO pay lighting and heating bills…

    (thx Wiki for schedule details above)

  7. rcampbell,

    I appreciate that…. It made me go back and reread the article….

  8. Rcampbell,

    I did state that…. I was including territories, states and possessions…… From what I understand is that 2 states out right exempt themselves…. But there are like 13 different times zones as well…..

    There are states that at one time allowed city’s to exempt out because the industry of commerce was a major city in an adjacent state….. I could be wrong if they do not still allow the exemptions….

  9. “…night owls and those who habitually grab fewer than seven hours of sleep a night can take a full week to catch up.” -yahoo


    A comment from the Yahoo article:

    “Was started so congressmen could play a round of golf before dark after doing nothing all day!!”

  10. Since the death of my wife last September, after 55 years, my circadian rhythm has been so screwed up that I can’t tell any difference. I hate to go to bed at night.

  11. Ay stated that 13 states opt out of DST. I thought we in AZ were among a very few (2 or 3) that don’t turn our clocks back. At least here the reasoning has always been that the one thing we DON’T need in the summer is MORE hours of relentless sunshine.

  12. Mark,

    Maybe the most appropriate article ever written at the Turley blog given the way I feel this A.M., as P.M. rapidly approaches. Yesterday we were with friends from the early afternoon until late. Returning home, with shows taped,
    notably HBO’s Sarah Palin movie “Game Changer” (excellent and frightening), my wife and I went to bed at 1:15 A.M.. This of course was really 2:15 A.M. and both of us take about an hour to get to sleep. My “hour” drifted into perhaps 4:00 A.M. and I awoke at 11:00 A.M., groggy, with much of the daytime gone and little disposition to do anything with the rest of it.

    Were this but a onetime occurrence in my 67 years I could chalk it up to coincidence. However, the same routine has repeated itself time and again for as many years as I can remember. I have always approached the “spring ahead” night with trepidation and loathing. Perhaps in a self-fulfilling prophecy I have always felt the same the morning after as I do now.

  13. And did I arise at 5 or 6….. There are about 13 states that opted out of the DST….. It also messes with shipping time schedules and wonder if you have a child in sports that shoes up an hour late….. I don’t think based upon today’s universal work life that it is as necessary…. But it does give more outdoor time in the summer which is good for retailers….. Thanks Mark…..

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