Did you forget to ‘fall back’ this morning?

People keep reminding you to set your clock back an hour. They meet your perplexed face with an ear-to-ear smile and the angelic phrase “you get an extra hour of sleep.”

Only a fool would question adjusting the clock in order to get more sleep. Without a second thought, we all run around the house, even resetting the old alarm clock that doesn’t have any batteries.

Sleep is sacred. Sleep is dear. But does Daylight Saving actually grant us an extra hour of sleep, as we hear? After all, we do ‘lose’ an hour when Daylight Saving Time is reinstated in the spring.

So what’s the point, if we don’t actually get more sleep?

CGP Grey actually does a sound job of explaining what DST is. Here’s a quick recap for those of you who can’t spare the extra data.

DST was first proposed by Kiwi insect-enthusiast George Hudson, in 1895, to save precious hours of daylight that he could use to catch more bugs. After all, he worked a regular job and could only go out to enjoy his hobby after work. All those hours of sunlight in the morning just went to waste.

In 1905, William Willett independently came up with the same idea to save daylight hours, when he realized many people sleep through the morning hours of sunshine. While not bug-inspired, Willet’s idea was similar to Hudson’s, as they both wanted to effectively push the clock ahead and hour, so that people could still enjoy all the hours of sunlight, while still maintaining their regular schedules.

Of course, the happiness of the people is never enough to enact change and their proposals went by the wayside. Efficiency and economics, however, has the power to move mountains, or time, in this case.

With the outbreak of World War I, Nazi-Germany became the first nation, along with Austria-Hungary, to adopt DST, in 1916 . The idea was that by setting the time forward, people would go about their day while the sun was out, reducing the strain on resources such as coal, which was required to create electricity. In a time of war, resources are scare and become highly valuable.

If you’re still confused, here’s an example that we hope will help. Say in standard time, the sun rises at 7 and sets at 6. By pushing the time ahead, you make sunrise 8 am and sunset 7 pm. Now, people are actually up and being productive while the sun is out, rather than wasting sunlight hours sleeping or getting ready. In standard time, someone would have used electricity to power lights from 6-7 pm. While in DST, that hour of electricity is saved because there is sunlight.

As the war progressed, more and more countries adopted DST, and while some countries eventually dropped the practice, many western countries continue till this day.

So we still follow the barbaric traditions of a belligerent totalitarian nation, you exclaim? Not exactly. While Nazi-Germany may have been the first nation, as a whole, to institute DST, they are far from the first place to do it. That honor belongs to a small Canadian city by the name of Port Arthur, Ontario. Port Arthur became the first city in the world to institute DST, in 1908.

As of now, there are 70 countries that still reset their clocks semiannually. Although there are many caveats. Not all states in the U.S. follow DST. Arizona and Hawaii both refrain from setting their clocks back, or forth, an hour. Even in Canada, Saskatchewan does not partake in DST.

As studies on the effectiveness and necessity of DST are inconsistent, many question whether the practice is still necessary. From an energy conservation standpoint, our electronics and energy consuming articles are more efficient than 100 years ago. And from a sunlight perspective, why not just keep daylight savings year round?

Alas, this is all just conjecture. While many governments around the world contend over the continued practice of DST, we the people must continue to rearrange our sleep schedules and continue to make sense of a seemingly nonsensical idea.

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