SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1 at 2 AM: It’s easy to remember this year. As you’re winding down from Halloween hoopla, turn your clocks back—and you’ve just gained an extra hour of sleep. Daylight Savings Time (DST) officially ends in 2015 in the early morning of November 1. And, yes, that’s the correct way to refer to this transition—DST is “ending.”
First proposed by New Zealand’s George Vernon Hudson in 1895, the concept of Daylight Savings Time was originally proposed to utilize after-work hours for leisure activities with extra daylight. In a practical sense, Germany and Austria-Hungary used DST in 1916 to conserve coal during wartime; Britain and many of its allies soon followed suit. Though DST has fallen in and out of favor for decades, it is still widely used today throughout Europe and most of the United States.
THE BEN FRANKLIN DEBATE
Care to start a debate with friends? Americans like to name Benjamin Franklin as the first proponent of Daylight Savings Time, because of a satirical essay he published while serving as an American envoy to Paris in 1784. Among other things, he urged the ringing of church bells and the firing of canons to get Parisians out of bed earlier each morning. However, historians now say that’s not the same as proposing Daylight Savings Time, which refers to a public shift in timekeeping. The 18th-century world had no concept of nationally standardized timekeeping, as we do today. Thus, many contemporary scholars don’t credit Ben with this particular innovation. (Want more ammunition on this point? Wikipedia offers more.)
A COMPLEX MAP
Still, many question its value in 21st century society, and arguments are made for the disruptions it causes in sleep patterns, traffic accidents, health issues and business.
Not all states in America practice Daylight Savings Time—and the patterns within the United States have become more complicated in recent years. It’s an issue that arises in many state legislatures. For example, one Texas lawmaker proposed ending DST, but the Texas House finally rejected the idea in part because of fears it would mix up start times for football games. Arizona has not been observing DST, but two large indian reservations in Arizona differ on the policy: the Navajo do; the Hopi do not. Wikipedia has a state-by-state breakdown of DST status.