Gaining or losing an hour can be a bit of a bewildering experience. Everyone has had the moment of panic when you realize your analog clock isn’t right when it says you were supposed to be at that meeting an hour ago.
It turns out there’s much more to the story than first appears, though. Here are 6 interesting facts about daylight savings:
- The idea is credited to a man who collected bugs
While Benjamin Franklin was an early suggester of Daylight Savings Time (DST), the first serious case for it came from a most unexpected place. An entomologist (bug collector) whose day job was at a post office, making nighttime his primary bug hunting time, became exceedingly frustrated at the early setting of the sun in summer.
He proposed that pushing time forward in spring would yield more daylight for bug collecting (and other evening stuff). Clocks, he said, could be switched back in winter, when people (and bugs) don’t care so much about being outside.
- At first, it was seen as pointless
The idea of DST was originally proposed to a scientific society in New Zealand in 1895. The scientists scoffed at it, saying it was overly complicated and lacked merit. A mere twenty years later, it began its wide adoption over the span of the entire developed world.
- The event that actually prompted making daylight savings into law was WWI
Germany was the first country to officially adopt Daylight Saving Time, which it did in 1916 in an attempt to conserve coal. Britain and a number of other European countries quickly followed suit. In 1918, the United States adopted it, primarily as a way of saving electricity in wartime. However, most countries (including the U.S.) stopped observing DST after the war ended.
- It was instituted again in the U.S. in the 1970s
The oil embargo in 1973 prompted a nationwide energy crisis in the U.S. One response of the government was to reduce public consumption by reinstituting DST, which it did in 1974. The biggest critics? Parents: they were suddenly forced to send kids off to school before the sun was even up.
- It's not very good for your health
A number of studies demonstrate that losing an extra hour of sleep in the spring affects human beings in dangerous ways. DST has been linked to an elevated risk of heart attack, stroke, and susceptibility to other illnesses.
- But it reduces crime
According to a 2015 study published, robberies drop by 7%+ following the start of DST in the spring. This was heavily impacted by a 27% drop in robberies during well-lit evening hours.