Daylight Saving Time: Why Humans Have the Power to ‘Spring Ahead’


Next Sunday, March 10, is the second Sunday in March. You know what that means: Daylight Savings Time (DST), the largely anticipated night where we lose an hour of sleep and the days suddenly start to seem longer. 

As we "spring ahead," it’s important to remember the history behind such a transition. DST also brings to question the nature of time and the cultural comfort we hold in shifting an important aspect of our lives such a significant amount. It’s embedded in our culture and here to stay. 

Benjamin Franklin first conceived the idea of DST while in Paris in 1784. It spread throughout Europe in the early 20th century before arriving in the United States in 1918.

The initial purpose of DST was to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. For those living near the tropics, daylight was essentially congruent throughout the year, but for those living near the North and South poles, energy consumption increased during the summer years when it got darker faster. With oil becoming an increasingly scarce commodity, an extra hour of daylight was thought to be an easy solution. 

Instead of retraining the populace to wake up earlier, we changed the clocks instead. After all, we are the creators of time; we have the right to manipulate it.

But should we really have the power to manipulate the fundamental structure of the universe? It’s a benign illusion due to the fact a majority of humans living in areas where DST is practiced take it as reality, but we’re essentially breaking the boundaries of time travel. It’s artificial and hackneyed, but it’s still time travel.

The measurement of time defines our history, our future, and the human condition. It describes times we’re having fun when it speeds up, and it defines boredom when it doesn't seem to move. We have a strong emotional attachment to every second in a day, month, and year, and its important that we maintain a biological stopwatch, or these drastic changes in time can have a large impact on our daily lives.

The arguments for energy and gasoline conservation, road safety, and health benefits are mostly rationalizations. Economic benefits? Maybe. Ultimately, after almost a century of use or misuse (depending on your opinion), DST culturally defines what we know as spring and summer.

Going against a timeline that virtually every US business and household adheres to is not recommended, but the Standard Time Act of 1918 as amended by the Uniform Time Act of 1966 requires a legal action at the state level to move an area on or off Daylight Savings Time. The convenience of commerce statue, together with the Department of Transpiration, makes this a headache for anyone pursuing a DST-free area. The government controls time.

If you’re really sick of DST, move to Arizona or Hawaii. If not, change your clocks forward one hour on Sunday morning at 2:00 a.m. and get ready for a sluggish following Monday.