The History Behind Daylight Saving Time

Last Sunday most people in the United States set their clocks back one hour, “falling back” to standard time. For many, the extra hour of sleep was very welcome. But where does this tradition come from?


According to National Geographic, up until 1918 there was no official standardized time, or time zones in the United States. Each municipality was allowed to set their own time. What complicated things was the railroad. It was difficult to maintain an effective schedule when every stop had a different time. In 1883 the railroad industry created uniform time zones, but they were not federally mandated until 1918. Daylight Saving Time was first practiced as an energy saving effort for WWI and WWII, however, the time changes were also regulated locally. It was the Department of Transportation that oversaw the federally regulated observance of Daylight Saving Time in 1966.

Current Regulations

Today there is still no federal mandate that all states are required to observe Daylight Saving Time; Arizona, Hawaii and many US territories don’t. But, it is required that if a state does use Daylight Saving Time, it must begin at 2:00 am the second Sunday in March and end at 2:00 am the first Sunday in November. Daylight Saving Time was extended in 2007 by four weeks with the intention of saving energy.


ABC reported that in 2008 “U.S. electricity use decreased by 0.5 percent per day, which added up to 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours — enough to power about 122,000 average U.S. homes for a year.” National Geographic reports that other benefits of extending daylight may include reduced traffic accidents, more people being active outdoors, increased use of public space such as parks, and less crime.

The benefit of ending Daylight Saving Time this week was an extra hour of sleep for you! You can enjoy your warm bed a little longer on a chilly November night. It may take your family a little bit of time to adjust to the new time, but you can enjoy getting up in the morning with a little more light. Consider taking an hour this week to celebrate the end of Daylight Saving Time. Do something you haven’t had time for in awhile, spend extra time with your family, enjoy a big breakfast or take a nap. How do you adjust to Daylight Saving Time?


Photo “Dawn over south Ealing” courtesy of Mark Hillary

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