On Sunday, March 13th it’ll be time to spring forward with the annual practice of setting our clocks forward by one hour to keep up with the changing sun. It means longer days and lighter nights until next fall – start off that stretch of good things by reading up on some fun facts about daylight saving time.
Benjamin Franklin was the first one to think up the idea of adjusting the clocks in accordance with the changing season. He started talking about it in 1784 but it didn’t become widespread until much later.
The first country to start using Daylight Saving was Germany, in April 1916. The United States followed suit in 1918, but repealed it only one year later; from 1918 until the Uniform Time Act was passed in 1966, local officials decided whether or not to use it.
Hawaii and Alaska are the only two states who don’t change their clocks.
A total of 78 countries around the world now observe the time change, although several United States territories – including Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands – don’t. Many nations near the equator don’t have the same fluctuation in light and so they don’t change their clocks.
In some countries, including Germany, Daylight Saving Time is referred to as summer time.
Although an hour’s sleep more or less may not seem like it would have too much of an effect, some studies have shown that the changes affect many people’s sleep patterns; early birds and morning people tend to handle the changes better than those who naturally stay up later or sleep in.
Aside from sleep patterns, there is some evidence that the time change affects other aspects of health: when we spring forward and lose an hour of sleep, the number of heart attacks that occur goes up, while when gain an hour setting the clocks back in the fall, the number of heart attacks briefly declines.
Most people pluralize the phrase (calling it Daylight Savings Time), but it’s actually singular – Daylight Saving Time.