As Spring season arrives, it’s time to turn back the clock – daylight saving time promises lengthier sunlight, but did you ever wonder why we have this tradition, and how it began?
On March 25, you may see people suspiciously tinkering their clocks fast-forward to an hour. You may have been told to do so, too. This is not some back-to-the-future drill. It's daylight saving time (DST), where, during spring, the time goes forward one hour whereas it turns backward during fall.
Fact #1: Germany and Austria were the first countries to use DST. This was back in 1916. On April 30 of that year, the Germans turned their clock ahead to minimize the use of artificial lighting, and in so doing, saves more fuel for their war efforts. A few weeks later, the rest of Europe followed, including France and United Kingdom.
Fact #2: Who invented DST, you ask? Most historians would point at Benjamin Franklin, as mentioned by David Prerau in his book Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time. However, digging deep into history's attic, the credit must have been reserved for New Zealand's George Vernon Hudson and Britain's William Willet. In 1985 Hudson submitted a 2-hour shift proposal to the Wellington Philosophical Society, but it was never followed through. In 1905, Willet, in his campaign "The Waste of Daylight," suggested that the clocks should be set 20 minutes ahead on every Sunday of April, then switch them back on each of the 4 Sundays of September. That's a lot of switches, but this, too, did not come into fruition.
Fact #3: Robert Pearce, member of the British Parliament, introduced the concept of daylight saving in a bill he passed in the House of Commons in 1908. The bill was drafted in 1909 and was examined several times. It was not until 1916 that the bill was established - a year after Willet's death.
Fact #4: Daylight saving time must have existed way before bills were ever written. Ancient civilizations are known to have used similar practices many centuries ago. One example: The Romans adjust their water clocks which they use to scale months, days and years.
Fact #5: Who uses daylight saving time? About 40% of the world observes DST, including most of the United States, Europe and Canada. Two known US states who does not observe this tradition are Hawaii and Arizona, along with the countries Puerto Rico, Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands.
Fact #6: Daylight saving time does not conclusively save energy, at all. Despite longer stretches of sunlight, recent studies show that saving lighting costs were offset by greater cooling expenses and gasoline consumption.
Fact #7: DST is also observed in the Southern Hemisphere, but in opposite seasons. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa set their time forward during September and move it an hour back during April. These countries, however, does not follow the time zone uniformly.
Fact #8: DST physically affects our bodies as well. In 2009, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed that mine workers got less sleep and had more than 5% more injuries in the workplace during "spring forward" season. People tend to have more heart attacks, most specifically during the first Monday of the DST season, as probed the 2014 Open Heart Journal.
Facts #9: Animals also recognize the time change, but luckily, they didn't have to look at clocks. Domesticated animals feel the change during their feeding hours, where, during DST, owners tend to bring their food an hour late. This was according to CSIRO Livestock Industries, Australia.
Facts #10: But there are obvious benefits to more sunlight, too. Research show that kids get more outdoor play when the sun is out later in the evening. There are also evidences of theft and robbery decrease, and farmers have more time to work on agriculture.
A little warning
During DST, you lose one hour of sleep. In the days where mornings stretch longer, the human biological clock is a bit off. Make sure to catch up on that sleep by dimming your room, blocking the windows, and perhaps pulling an eye mask over so you can get the perfect atmosphere to sleep.