It’s time for an annual ritual: spring forward. Tonight, we set our clocks ahead by an hour as we switch to Daylight Saving Time.
The idea was first proposed in the 19th century. Germany and Austria-Hungary became the first countries to adopt it, in 1916.
The United States took it up late in World War I. The idea was that extending evening daylight would reduce energy usage, providing more resources for the war effort. And during World War Two, it was implemented year-round, with a two-hour difference from Standard Time.
After the war, states were free to do what they wanted. But in 1966, Congress passed rules for the whole country. States could opt out — Arizona and Hawaii still do — but they couldn’t implement DST year-round.
Today, the pluses and minuses of Daylight Saving Time are hotly debated. Some studies suggest there’s a slight decrease in energy usage, but others find no difference. Other studies find an increase in health problems, such as the risk of heart attack — but others don’t. And still other studies have reported evidence of more car accidents, while others find no change at all.
But the change always brings complaints — especially in the spring, when we lose an hour of sleep. Last year, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to make the change year-round, but it died in the House. So for now, most of us will keep springing forward in March, and falling back in November.
Script by Damond Benningfield