Most Americans assume that Daylight Saving Time (there is not an "s" on Saving) is a relatively new concept; however, Benjamin Franklin is credited with the initial idea in 1784. William Willet, of Great Britain, did take the idea seriously in the late 1800s, but proposed only a 20 minute time difference. It was not until 1916 that Germany and Austria implemented the one hour "spring ahead, fall behind" plan; other European countries soon followed. The United States passed the first Daylight Saving Time Law in 1918.
In the United States, the second Sunday in March is designated to begin the saving time schedule for the year; clocks are set one hour ahead at 2:00 a.m. The first Sunday in November, also at 2:00 a.m., time will return to Standard Time by setting clocks one hour behind. Hawaii and Arizona have opted not to participate in the program. The DST Law is not an international law; therefore, other countries implement their light saving schedules at all different times during the year causing much confusion for businesses who deal with international companies. Additionally, not all countries use the one-hour plan. Some countries use a one-half hour change, while others implement a two-hour change causing even more uncertainty.
The basic reasoning behind Daylight Saving is fairly obviously; the objective is to extend daylight hours. In the beginning of the time change plan, it was also seen as a way to conserve energy by using less electricity before bedtime. Other benefits are also seen in today's world. Statistics show that fewer auto accidents occur when daylight saving is in effect; people tend to drive more safely in the light. With most violent crimes being committed in the dark of night, crime rates also tend to be a bit less during this period. There are also beneficial effects on the economy during DST. People tend to have more of a desire to shop after work instead of going straight home, which they are inclined to do if it is already dark. Forgetting the change is always a sure fire excuse to be late for work once a year, and some people take advantage of it annually.
Many citizens still continually complain about having to change their clocks twice a year. Changes in sleeping habits and the inconvenience of changing the time on numerous technical gadgets are two of the main criticisms. People who have to say religious prayers at certain times of the day can also be confused by the new time.
One debate of a more serious nature is that DST contributes to health problems. Time changes can cause havoc for our internal physical clocks that regulate critical bodily functions. Although it doesn't seem like one hour could make a big difference, medical researchers now believe, in some people, even a small time schedule change can cause breathing problems and erratic blood pressure.
Recent studies also show the severity of heart problems increase during the summer months. This is mainly attributed to a lack of sleep for people that require significant rest. This can be counteracted in most people with early evening exercise, keeping evening meal schedules the same throughout the year, and installing heavy draperies in the bedroom keeping the bedroom dark. Heart patients should also pay close attention to their activities and sleep habits during the first several weeks of the time change.
Prepare for each Daylight Saving Time change by getting adequate sleep and changing the clocks before retiring the night before the change goes into effect. We all need to be sure we stay healthy while enjoying the long summer days.