A much-needed extra hour of sleep in the fall, followed by the dreadful loss of that same hour four months after – many of us have accepted this sequence of the clocks changing at 2:00 a.m. as customary. Yet, the idea of daylight saving time has sparked several debates dating back to the practice’s first conceptualizations in the early twentieth century.
William Wellet of Britain published The Waste of Daylight in 1907, inspiring a sequence of countries – seventy as of today – to adopt the system of adjusting our clocks biannually, also known as Daylight Savings. Arguing that “if some of the hours of wasted sunlight could be withdrawn from the beginning and added to the end of the day, how many advantages would be gained by all,” Wellet concentrated on one’s deserved chance to enjoy daylight.
Germany’s installation of daylight savings in 1916, and Britain’s shortly after, can be credited to Wellet and his innovative proposal. The United States would go on to adopt Wellet’s suggestion during World War I, although our Standard Time Act of 1918 was primarily a wartime measure to conserve energy. Repealed after seven months, Americans would not change their clocks again until World War II, when President Roosevelt reinstated the measure, eventually becoming a law in 1966: the Uniform Act. Thus began over half a century of controversy regarding the policy’s practicality.
Most recently, in March of 2022 the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act, creating potential for The United States to cease clock changes permanently. This would mean longer evenings in the winter months, but also sunrises as late as 9 a.m. for certain states. If the act succeeds, changes would be set in place in 2023.
Citizens have made compelling arguments on either side of this dispute. Some maintain that permanent DST could result in a detrimental effect on our health, while others contend that brighter evenings would produce lower crime rates.
Whether you’re a fan of the tradition or not, be sure to mark your calendars for November 6 to ‘fall back’ in time this autumn!