Life

Here's when and why daylight saving time started in the US

Twenty20

On Sunday March 10 at 2 a.m., most Americans will set our clocks forward one hour. That means losing an hour of sleep but seeming to gain some precious sunshine.

Benjamin Franklin first introduced the idea of daylight saving time in a 1784 essay titled "An Economical Project." But the modern concept is credited to George Hudson, an entomologist from New Zealand, who in 1895 "proposed a two-hour time shift so he'd have more after-work hours of sunshine to go bug hunting in the summer," the National Geographic reports.

The concept resurfaced during WWI as a way to save energy. The idea was that people would spend more time outside and less time inside with the lights on at night and, therefore, conserve electricity.

"But it was only done during the summer," Vox reports. "Otherwise, farmers would have to wake up and begin farming in the dark to be on the same schedule as everyone else."

The law "to save daylight" was passed by Congress in 1918. After the war, however, state governments were left to decide whether they wanted to continue with the time change.

The law resurfaced during WWII but again, after the war, the time change decision was left to each state. Some states kept it and others abandoned it. Daylight saving time didn't officially become a law until 1966, under the Uniform Time Act. Now, according to the Department of Transportation, daylight saving time reduces crime, conserves energy and even saves lives.

Still, not everyone is a fan. After all, "springing forward" and losing an hour of sleep can hurt workers' productivity. Studies have shown that even one night of not getting proper sleep can have ripple effects: It can make you feel hungrier than usual, it puts you at greater risks for accidents while driving and at work, it can decrease your focus and it can makes you susceptible to catching a cold.

States can opt out of daylight saving time. Hawaii and most of Arizona already have. Another handful of states have considered or experimented with it. American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands also don't observe daylight saving time.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, is introducing a bill to shift the entire country onto daylight saving time for good. "Studies have shown many benefits of a year-round Daylight Saving Time, which is why Florida's legislature overwhelmingly voted to make it permanent last year," Rubio said.

The idea of the Sunshine Protection Act has its adherents: Given that our current system of having to change clocks is  "irritating" and potentially "perilous," as one writer at Slate puts it, Florida's version of the law is "the only good piece of legislation to emerge from Tallahassee so far this century."

Don't miss: Here's why daylight saving time hurts workers' productivity

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