Daylight Saving Time Starts Tonight; Clocks Jump Ahead by an Hour at 2 AM on Sunday

Photo by Thomas Bormans

The United States is about to spring forward! Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins early Sunday morning, March 10th, at 2:00 am.

But what does that actually mean?

Here’s the deal: When clocks “spring forward,” they jump ahead one hour. So, at 2:00 am on Sunday, time will jump to 3:00 am, essentially making that hour disappear. This shift has some consequences. People who normally sleep from 10 pm to 6 am will only get 7 hours of sleep instead of their usual 8. Night owls working the same hours will only work for 7 hours instead of 8.

While most smartphones and internet-connected devices will update their clocks automatically, don’t forget to manually adjust clocks in appliances like microwaves, ovens, and on your walls.

Daylight Saving Time actually has a bit of a history in the US. It was first used during World War I to conserve energy. After the war, most people preferred standard time. However, DST reappeared during the energy crisis of the 1970s, again with the goal of saving fuel.

Though initially popular, concerns about safety, especially for children walking to school in the dark mornings, led to its repeal later that year. The current DST schedule, which starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November, was established in 2007.

a close up of a silver watch face
Photo by Agê Barros

The concept of daylight saving time (DST) in the United States has a long and winding history, marked by periods of adoption, rejection, and ongoing debate. This excerpt explores this history:

Early and Inconsistent Use (1916-1966):

  • The idea of DST was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin in a satirical essay in 1784.
  • During World War I, Germany implemented DST to conserve fuel, prompting the United States to follow suit in 1918.
  • However, farmers disliked DST as it disrupted their work schedules, and the practice was abolished after the war.
  • Different localities adopted DST inconsistently, creating a patchwork of time zones across the country.

Federal Standard Established (1967-1972):

  • The Uniform Time Act of 1966 established a national standard for DST, mandating specific start and end dates.
  • Some states, like Arizona, opted out of DST entirely.

Year-Round Experiment (1973-1975):

  • During the 1973 oil crisis, a trial period of year-round DST was implemented to conserve energy.
  • Public opinion shifted due to concerns about safety, particularly for schoolchildren walking to school in the dark mornings.
  • The experiment was terminated after two years.

Extension of Daylight Saving Time (2005-2009):

  • The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended the DST period by several weeks, aiming to save energy through increased evening daylight hours.
  • The actual energy savings were minimal, and the impact on various sectors like retail and construction was debated.

Proposals for Year-Round DST (2015-Present):

  • Several states and federal representatives have proposed legislation to adopt permanent DST, citing benefits like increased economic activity and convenience.
  • Others argue for permanent standard time, emphasizing the importance of morning sunlight and potential health risks associated with DST disruptions.
  • The Sunshine Protection Act of 2019, proposing year-round DST, passed the US Senate but hasn’t been approved by the House.

The Debate Continues:

  • Public opinion on DST remains divided.
  • As of March 2024, no federal legislation has been passed regarding permanent DST.
  • Most of the United States continues to observe DST twice a year.