It’s been a little more than 100 years since the first spring forward in Germany during World War I, and people around the world still disagree about whether daylight saving time is worth the trouble. At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 12, about 1.6 billion people around the world will set their clocks forward to daylight saving time, forfeiting an hour of sleep, but why?
Originally, daylight saving time was implemented to conserve energy.
During World War I, the German government wanted to reduce energy demand so more coal could be used for the war. Most of the United States implemented the same strategy sporadically during World War I and World War II. In 1966, the Uniform Time Act made daylight saving time a permanent practice in most states.
Arizona and Hawaii still do not observe daylight saving time, and until 2006, 77 of Indiana’s 92 counties did not observe the time change.
When all of Indiana’s counties adopted the practice, it was a rare opportunity for the U.S. Department of Energy to measure the effect of daylight saving time on energy use. Surprisingly, the state used 1 percent more energy, which equaled an extra $9 million.
Aside from energy conservation, studies have found that the time change interrupts sleep cycles, causing fatigue, lack of productivity and sadness. Other studies show that the number of heart attacks spikes in the days following the March time change, and after the November time change, the frequency of heart attacks decreases.
There’s evidence showing energy savings, too.
In 2007, daylight saving time was extended by four weeks and the government had another chance to compare national energy use. The new report showed Americans used about 0.5 percent less energy per day during daylight saving time.
Whether you like it or hate it, it’s likely here to stay. Use the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November as a reminder to tackle the easy-to-forget, semi-annual chores like testing and changing your smoke alarm batteries and practicing your family emergency plan.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to change the pesky microwave clock. It won’t change itself.