Daylight saving time (DST), also known as daylight savings time, daylight time, or summer time, is a practice that people in the United States and many other countries observe by actively adjusting their clocks forward or backward by one hour twice a year. As an international registered nurse or medical technologist recently relocated to the U.S. this may be a practice you’re unfamiliar with, so we’ve created a guide to help you understand DST.
Brief history and origins of daylight saving time
The concept of daylight saving time can be traced back to the 18th century, but its widespread adoption began during World War I as a measure to conserve energy. In the United States it was first implemented in 1918 as a temporary wartime measure, and it was reinstated during World War II. However, after the war, DST was not consistently observed across the country. It wasn't until the Uniform Time Act of 1966 that DST became standardized, although individual states retained the ability to opt out.
The time change
In the U.S., daylight saving time begins on the second Sunday in March when clocks are set forward by one hour. This shift allows for more sunlight in the evenings and is often referred to as "springing forward." The time change occurs at 2am local time, so most people adjust their clocks before going to bed the night before to avoid confusion in the morning.
Daylight saving time ends on the first Sunday in November when clocks are set back by one hour. This adjustment takes place at 2am local time, resulting in sunset and sunrise occurring an hour earlier. This transition is commonly known as "falling back" and provides an extra hour of sleep for many individuals.
You can use “springing forward” and “falling back” to remember which way to change the clocks, based on the season you’re in.
Benefits and controversies
One of the main benefits of DST is that it ultimately provides an additional hour of daylight in the evenings, which allows people to enjoy more outdoor activities and reduce electricity usage. Longer daylight hours have been associated with increased physical activity and improved mental well-being.
However, there are critics of DST who argue that the time change causes more harm than good. One of the main concerns is the disruption it can cause to our internal body clocks. Adjusting to a different sleep schedule can lead to sleep deprivation and fatigue, impacting productivity levels and even increasing the risk of accidents in the days following the time change. Another common criticism is that the energy savings associated with DST are not significant enough to justify the inconvenience it imposes on people's lives.
State and local government involvement
Although DST is observed in most parts of the United States, it is not universally followed. Hawaii and most of Arizona are the only states that do not participate in DST. The reasons for these exemptions vary, but one of the main factors is climate. Areas with consistent sunlight and warm temperatures may not see the need to adjust their clocks.
Furthermore, some states have taken steps to modify their approach to daylight saving time. In recent years, several states have considered legislation to either eliminate DST or make it a year-round practice. These proposals aim to eliminate the disruption caused by the biannual time change and provide more stability in people's schedules.
Depending on where you live in the U.S., you may be affected by daylight saving time changes twice a year. Set a reminder to change your clocks, so that you’re running on the right time when changeover happens!