“Falling Back” to Standard Time

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McKenzie Bollar winds back the clock for an hour at the end of Daylight Saving Time.  Photo by  Katrina Christensen

McKenzie Bollar winds back the clock for an hour at the end of Daylight Saving Time. Photo by Katrina Christensen


Over 70 different countries use daylight saving, mainly to make better use of natural light. America is one of them but on November 1, the time changed back to standard time, meaning the clock was set back one hour.

“Falling back,” in the fall means to set the clocks back one hour and switch to standard time. This is done at exactly 2.00a.m. local time, meaning the time really is 1a.m. at that time. “Springing forward” in the spring moves the clock forward one hour to daylight saving, and this is done at 2a.m. as well meaning the time really is 3a.m. It makes the most sense using daylight saving in areas that are the furthest away from Earth’s equator. This is where there is the biggest difference in the number of daylight hours in summer and winter.

Changing the time not only affects our bodies and routine of sleep, it can also lead to injuries and disasters. It may be harder getting out of bed Monday morning after switching to daylight saving. The kids might be a little grumpy because they have lost one hour of sleep. But being tired can be more dangerous than just being grumpy – it can lead to fatal accidents. Tiredness can decrease productivity and concentration, and studies reveal that switching to daylight saving has an increased risk of heart attacks, sleep problems, and road accidents – simply because of people being tired.

Germany was the first country to use daylight saving. It happened on April 30, 1916. The idea was to minimize the use of artificial lighting so fuel for the war effort during World War I could be saved. Other countries, including Britain and the United States, quickly followed the idea. Many countries switched back to standard time when the war was over, and it was not until the next World War that daylight saving made its return to many of the countries again to save vital energy resources for the war.

In 1883, America’s railroads began using a standard time system involving four time zones, which are known as Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. The plan from the railroad was adopted by most of the country, but the time-zone system did not become official across the United States until 1918, which is also the time where daylight saving time was established.

By the mid-20th century, most of the world had adopted a system of international time zones. This divided the planet into 24 zones spaced at 15 degrees of longitude each representing their own hour. The official prime meridian, at zero point of longitude, was chosen in 1884 at the International

Meridian Conference to be running through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, being the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Traveling east of the prime meridian sets the clock forward one hour for each zone entering. Traveling west of the prime meridian sets the clock back one hour for each zone entering.

So, “fall back” on the first Sunday in November and do not forget to “spring forward” again on the second Sunday in March.

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