Daylight Saving Time’s history reveals its purpose


Twice a year, people turn the clock back one hour in order to conserve energy and make better use of our daylight. It is a fact often forgotten, and people tend to misunderstand how the practice came to be.

Looking into the history can explain its origin and why society continues the cycle.

According to website Time and Date, the idea of saving daylight has been practiced since the times of Ancient Roman. The Romans’ water clocks used different scales for different months of the year.

Its practice was lost once the Roman Empire fell, but it resurfaced thanks to American inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin. He wrote an essay called “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” to the editor of The Journal of Paris in 1784.

In Franklin’s essay, he jokingly said Parisians could economize their candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning with morning light instead.

The implementation of DST was used first by Germany on April 30, 1916. Clocks were turned forward an hour at 11 p.m. The rationale was to minimize the use of artificial lighting in order to save fuel for the war effort. Other countries adopted the policy shortly after.

DST was first officially introduced to the United States when President Woodrow Wilson signed into law to support the war effort during World War I. The law was repealed several months later, although some cities continued to use it until Franklin Roosevelt instituted year-round DST in 1942.

Students from The University of Southern Mississippi were asked to comment on how they felt about Daylight Saving Time.

Brady Boleware, junior kinesiology major, thinks DST is very unusual and unneeded today. He discussed the time changes and how much trouble it is to get up the next day.

“It’s just a slug, and you do not feel like doing anything,” Boleware said. It is these feelings which drive Boleware to wanting the practice to be removed.

Others, however, do not want the practice of saving daylight to be removed.

Chris Young, an iTech staff member, feels like the practice should remain on the basis that we have kept it for so many years, and the problems are very minimal.

“We’ve just done it for so long (that) I’m used to it, and that extra hour of sleep is kind of nice,” Young said.

There are some effects of DST on our health, according to WebMD.

Moving clocks in either direction changes the principal time cue for setting and resetting our 24-hour natural cycle. Our internal clock becomes out of sync, which results in feeling sluggish the next day, as Boleware said.

The same effects of DST come into play during air travel. Traveling east causes lost time while traveling west causes gained time.

How long it will take one to adapt depends on how many hours he or she loses or gains. A rule of thumb, according to WebMD, is that it takes one day to adjust for each hour of time change.

So if one travels to California from New Orleans by plane, that is a two hour difference between Central Time Zone and Pacific Time Zone, meaning it will take roughly two days of recovery.

Those who are already sleep-deprived will suffer the worst effects. People will experience drop in overall performance while also having concentration and memory problems.

While in the process of saving daylight and conserving energy, we could also suffer some unpleasant effects that will make our Monday mornings that much harder. People vary in their opinions about whether or not to keep it, but the effects of losing or gaining an hour of sleep are undeniable.