Time Wasted

Isabella Rosette, Staff Writer

Falling back? Springing ahead? What does it all really mean? Dating back to World War I, daylight saving has been implemented to save energy, despite the myths that it was designed to help farmers take advantage of more daylight. According to NASA, Benjamin Franklin was the first to introduce the concept of daylight saving, in hope to use the most of the daylight. daylight saving has been widely used by the United States, Canada, and Europe since World War I. Post the war, the government recognized a need to conserve coal after the war to heat homes. Germany became the first country to adopt a light-extending system in 1915 to save fuel. Then, in 1916, Britain adopted their own system of daylight saving called British Summer Time: from May 21 to October 1, British clocks were put an hour ahead. Later, in 1918, the United States followed. Congress passed the Standard Time Act, establishing time zones. However, this was against the wishes of the public. Suddenly, in 1917, with President Woodrow Wilson’s declaration of war, energy-saving became vital and propaganda in favor of the light-extending system. A group known as the National Daylight Saving Convention distributed postcards to the public. These postcards portrayed Uncle Sam holding a garden hoe and rifle, turning back the hands of a pocket watch. The cards prompted voters to sign the cards and mail them to congressmen, writing “If I have more daylight, I can work longer for my country. We need every hour of light” on them. In 1918, Congress finally declared that all clocks would be moved ahead one hour at 2:00 A.M on March 31, with public opinion finally in their favor. However, this method of daylight saving only lasted until 1920. The law was repealed due to immense opposition from dairy farmers, their argument being that the cows did not recognize the change in time. 28 bills to repeal daylight saving time had been introduced to Congress and the law was removed. Regardless, it was set to return after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, as the United States was once again at war. During the war, daylight saving was implemented once again and clocks were set one hour ahead to conserve energy. 

However nowadays, daylight saving seems to be more annoying than it is helpful. In fact, as of 2021, daylight saving is not recognized in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands and a majority of Arizona. According to Almanac.com, Hawaii does not observe daylight saving time because the sun sets and rises around the same time every day, and they abandoned the law in 1967. Arizona also chose not to follow the law in 1968, to give residents lower temperatures during waking and bedtime hours. However, as of March 2021, 15 states, including Arkansas, Alabama, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming have passed initiative laws to keep daylight saving time in effect.

Daylight saving hasn’t always been the same, however. According to NASA, in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a law regarding daylight saving, stating that it begins on the last Sunday of April and ends on the last Sunday in October of each year. 20 years later, however, that law was amended, daylight saving time now beginning on the first Sunday in April, while the end date stayed the same. In 2005, President George W. Bush signed a new bill regarding the energy policy, extending daylight saving time by four weeks, beginning on the second Sunday of March, the bill taking effect in 2007, leaving us with what we know today as daylight saving time.

Despite the original use of daylight saving to conserve energy, studies have shown that daylight saving time barely even saves any energy at all. According to a Department of Energy report from 2008, “during the 4 weeks the U.S. extended daylight savings from the 2005 law, there were savings of about 0.5 percent in electricity per day”. However, later studies have shown that the energy saving that does occur is minimal, but daylight saving does occur minimally. 

So, what really are the effects of daylight saving? According to Health.com, the rates of strokes, car accidents and heart attacks increase during the start and end of daylight saving. Exhaustion and fatigue is commonly reported, especially among teens. According to Northwestern Medicine, some people even experience what are known as “cluster headaches” where a headache forms on one side of the head and can stay there for days or weeks. However, there are ways to make the transition of daylight saving better. When daylight saving was first instituted, Americans were instructed to go to bed earlier than they usually would, to help lessen the effects of feeling fatigued. According to WebMD, avoiding coffee and other caffeinated drinks can also help with this transition, as the caffeine tends to affect sleeping schedules. Studies also show that exposing yourself to daylight for periods of time can also lift mood and can help stimulate. 

So, while daylight saving time doesn’t seem to be of much help nowadays, it actually did serve a purpose: to save energy and fuel during times of war.