You might be curious about how many minutes of daylight people gain at different times of the year. That’s a good question, especially if you think about the old saying “Fall back, spring forward.” In the US, Daylight Saving Time affects a lot of these answers (DST).
Most Americans wake up in the early spring (or late winter) after losing an hour of sleep, or in the late fall after gaining an hour of sleep. Daylight Saving Time changes the way we sleep and, in part, how much sun we’ll see during business hours.
Without a doubt, DST has a big effect on how we live our lives. So, where did the idea come from, and why was it put into action? And, what might be the most important question, why does it still exist? Let’s find out why this has been done for a hundred years and what kinds of time changes will happen this year.
When Do Days Start Getting Longer?
From March to June, as the sun moves higher in the sky, we get two more minutes of daylight each day. After DST, which starts at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March, it’s easy to see how much more daylight there is each day. Most of the time, it’s darker in the morning and brighter in the late afternoon. Also, the sun stays up longer the further away someone is from the equator and the higher their latitude.
Starting in August, we lose two minutes of daylight every day until the winter solstice, which happens between December 20 and 23. At the solstice, the North Pole is the farthest from the sun. This makes the solstice the day with the shortest length. On June 21, the summer solstice, the sun is closest to the Northern Hemisphere. This makes it the longest day of the year.
From the spring equinox in March to the summer solstice in June, the Northern Hemisphere gets more and more daylight. This is why people in Australia have winter when people living north of the equator are having summer.
Why the time of day changes
To put it simply, the tilted axis of the Earth is to blame for this change. The Earth spins on an axis that is tilted 23.5 degrees with respect to the axis around which it goes around the sun every 365 days, or 366 days in a Leap Year. The tilted axis tells us how many hours of daylight we have every day. Depending on where you live, the time of day changes.
For example, parts of the Earth that are tilted toward the sun get more than 12 hours of sunlight every day. On the other hand, places on Earth that don’t face the sun get less sunlight. As the Earth goes around the sun, the amount that one part of the planet tilts toward or away from the sun changes over the course of a year. On several websites, you can find out the exact times of sunrise and sunset in your area and even see a graph of the length of a day. This can help you figure out how many hours of daylight each day will have.
Most of the world uses DST to keep track of when it starts getting lighter in the spring and summer and when it starts getting darker in the fall and winter. But what is DST and how did it come to be?
History of Daylight Saving Time and Why We Do It
Some people say that the idea came from an essay that Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1784. Some people say that Daylight Saving Time began in the early 1900s in either Canada or Germany. Regardless, the United States government needed a way to increase production while saving energy during World War I. Daylight Saving Time, which uses the longer hours of daylight from April to October, seemed like a great way to do both. During World War II, when the U.S. joined the war effort, the federal government told the states they had to use Daylight Saving Time.
After World War II, the federal government gave states the option of using Daylight Saving Time. By 1966, Congress had passed the Uniform Time Act, which made Daylight Saving Time last the same amount of time every year. The Energy Policy Act was passed in 2005, which made Daylight Saving Time last from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November, an extra four weeks.
As was already said, Daylight Saving Time is meant to help save energy. In order to save 10,000 barrels of oil every day, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act. Lawmakers thought that if businesses used less electricity during the day, it would reduce the amount of oil that was used. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to figure out how much energy is saved, if any. Even though Daylight Saving Time saves energy from fossil fuels, it is still used in most of the United States.
Daylight and the Health of People
People always say that they “lose an hour” of sleep because of Daylight Saving Time. Joseph S. Takahashi, Ph.D., Chair of the Neuroscience Department at UT Southwestern, looked into how desynchronization affects the body. “This twice-yearly misalignment of our body clocks has been linked to increased health risks like depression, obesity, heart attack, cancer, and even car accidents,” says UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Every cell in the body knows what time it is. Changes to daily routines cause people to lose sleep, forget things, have trouble learning, and have trouble thinking. The CLOCK gene was found in Dr. Takahashi’s lab in 1997. It was called “the first circadian gene in mammals.” Mutations in CLOCK genes can cause delays in circadian functions, which can cause problems with metabolism, behaviour, and thinking.
In 2016, Dr. Takahashi’s lab found the first genes that control sleep in mice. The study found “two genes in mice that control how much rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep are needed.” Long periods of non-REM sleep, when the brain isn’t dreaming or working on memories, are important for healthy sleep patterns. The results suggest ways for the nearly 20% of people who have sleeping disorders to improve their sleep hygiene. Because of this, Daylight Saving Time and other things in the environment have a big effect on people’s health.
Where do people still use daylight saving time?
Currently, Daylight Saving Time is used in 48 states. Arizona decided not to do it in 1968 because it was too hot there in the summer. NASA says that DST is used in the Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona.
Under the Uniform Time Act, Hawaii has never used Daylight Saving Time because it is in the tropics. In 1933, the state legislature put in place Daylight Saving Time for a short time. But the state got rid of the law in just three weeks. Also, the weather in Hawaii rarely changes, so Daylight Saving Time had almost no effect on how much energy was used.
Every time there is an election, the issue of Daylight Saving Time seems to come up again. In 2020, Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott introduced the Sunshine Protection Act — a modern example of how Daylight Saving Time remains an essential topic of political and scientific conversation. The European Union voted to stop changing time twice a year in 2019. Due to the health risks, similar laws are also being thought about in a number of U.S. states.
This year, Daylight Savings Time (DST) starts on March 13 and ends on November 6. Consider getting to bed earlier than usual and adjusting your clocks and alarms ahead of time.