This is the weekend many who enjoy their sleep have been dreading. It’s time to begin Daylight Saving Time.
So should you turn your clocks ahead or backward?
Utilizing the familiar saying of “spring forward, fall back,” you should turn your clocks ahead one hour effective at 2 a.m. Sunday. Therefore, 2 a.m. becomes 3 a.m. and we get one less hour of sleep, but we’ll have a much brighter Sunday evening. (Since this isn’t the first time we’ve experienced this time shift, many have found it easier to just set your clocks ahead before you go to bed rather than getting up at 2 a.m. to spring forward, but do whatever works best for you.)
While you may not feel the effects of tonight being shorter than you’re used to, it may catch up with you by Monday. The Monday after DST begins is notable as a day when there’s reportedly an increase in traffic accidents, heart attacks induced by stress (or, in this case, lack of sleep) and several other little-known statistical quirks.
While Ohio and Kentucky will join most of the rest of the U.S. in springing forward tonight, not everyone is on the DST bandwagon. Arizona and Hawaii don’t observe the time shift, nor do the overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Of course, how many of us are going to these places in the next six or eight months, so is it really important?)
Why is that? In general, DST is not observed in lower-latitude regions since summer days are not much longer than winter ones as is the case in higher latitudes.
Florida legislators just this week voted to spring forward tonight and never go back, which will, essentially, establish a Florida time during the winter months because the state will be an hour ahead of the rest of the East Coast. While the state is allowed to make this choice, it still has to be approved by Congress, so we’ll have to wait until this fall to see if Floridians fall back with the rest of us.
For those of us who do go along with the majority, DST lasts about two-thirds of the year — 238 days, or 34 weeks, until it’s time to “fall back” on the first Sunday of November, Nov. 4 this year.
For those interested in the history of DST, while they may need to get a life, here’s why we find ourselves figuring out which direction to adjust our clocks and, if we heed the advice of fire departments everywhere, checking our smoke detectors to make sure they’re working properly.
Ben Franklin is credited with starting the whole time thing centuries before it was actually implemented. He suggested the concept in 1784, but few paid attention. It wasn’t until we starting fighting world wars that the idea caught on as a way to help the war effort. (If you really want to know more about that, thankfully Al Gore invented the internet.)
But most agree that the reasons for changing the clocks twice a year was one born out of economics more than anything else. Energy savings is a benefit to which many advocates point, but such savings have generally been determined to be negligible. Then there’s data to support the notion that people spend more when it’s daylight rather than when it’s dark, but there are also those who say the difference is not enough to abandon falling back as winter approaches. Florida, of course, doesn’t see it that way, and hopes to cash in on more sunlight throughout the year to keep (mainly) tourists spending money.
For those looking to cash in on trivia bets at the local pub, the biannual time change gives you the perfect opportunity to gain a beer while losing a friend or two. When the question arises about which is the shortest day of the year — and you know many are inclined to answer the first day of winter, or winter solstice — you’ll know the real answer is the day DST begins, because we lose an hour and that day is 23 hours long. (Conversely, the longest day of the year is not the summer solstice, but the day DST ends, because we gain an hour and that day is 25 hours long.)
Reach Lynn Adams at 740-353-3101 ext. 1927