Don’t forget to fall back on November 5: A brief history of DST and its health effects

Daylight saving time will end on Sunday, November 5 at 2:00am, pushing clocks back an hour.

A brief history of daylight savings time (DST)

DST is the practice of advancing clocks (typically by one hour) during warmer months so that darkness falls at a later clock time.

According to The Franklin Institute, the idea of aligning waking hours to daylight hours to conserve candles was first proposed in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin. In a satirical letter to the editor of The Journal of Paris, Franklin suggested that waking up earlier in the summer would economize on candle usage and result in considerable savings.

Benjamin Franklin’s 1784 essay, courtesy of The Franklin Institute

According to, the modern idea of changing clocks with the seasons can be traced back to at least the late 19th century when New Zealand entomologist George Hudson proposed it to conserve energy and extend summer daylight hours, something which would have benefited his own hobby of collecting insects after work.

An excerpt:

The first real experiments with daylight saving time began during World War I. On April 30, 1916, Germany and Austria implemented a one-hour clock shift to conserve electricity needed for the war effort. The United Kingdom and several other European nations adopted daylight saving shortly after that, and the United States followed suit in 1918.

A common myth is that the U.S. adopted daylight saving time to benefit farmers, but in reality many farmers are opposed to the practice for being disruptive to their schedules.

The practice has been controversial from the outset, with many countries having adopted and rejected it multiple times. Most of North America and Europe follows the custom, while the majority of countries elsewhere, especially those close to the equator, do not.

Japan considered adopting the practice for the 2020 Olympics but rejected the proposal due to lack of popular support and technical challenges.

The U.S. is not ending daylight saving any time soon, though there is an effort in the federal government to pass the so-called Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight saving time permanent.

For more history on DST and its effects on our health, you can watch the video below:

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