Spring forward: Why we're forced to lose an entire frigging hour of sleep

Mar 12 2022, 12:29 am

It’s almost time to spring forward and when it comes to Daylight Saving, peoples’ opinions range from favourable to frustrated to fed up.

Sure, it’s nice to have that extra hour of sunlight, but is it worth losing an entire hour of sleep for?

The clocks will shift on Sunday, March 13, at 2 am. When you wake up, you’ll likely feel extra tired, especially if you’re on a well-regulated body clock.

A lot of research that has come to light in recent years has also suggested that Daylight Saving does more harm than good, but why does it exist in the first place?

Also, is it Daylight Saving, or Daylight Savings? We’re going to answer these questions and more.

Where it all started

The Old Farmer’s Almanac is full of useful — and sometimes useless — information.

When it comes to its historical information about Daylight Saving, it’s a little bit of both.

According to Almanac, the earliest known mention of Daylight Saving dates as far back as the late 1700s. Benjamin Franklin apparently wrote about it in a piece he penned called “An Economical Project.”

Almanac signals someone else as the “true founder” of DST.

His name was William Willet, an Englishman who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

He wrote a manifesto called “The Waste of Daylight” when he noticed that people had their shutters closed even though the sun was brightly shining.

He suggested that as many as 210 hours of daylight are wasted every year and called it a defect in our civilization. The way he would’ve implemented it is actually quite different than what we have grown used to.

He suggested that clocks be put ahead 20 minutes on each Sunday in April, and to reverse that process in September. According to Almanac, he was ridiculed for his proposal.

To spring forward or not to spring forward

The Germans were actually the first to adopt DST sometime around 1915 in an effort to conserve coal used for heating homes. That led to the introduction of British Summer Time when clocks were put ahead by one hour in Britain, between May and October.

(That would’ve stood for BST, which would actually be a fitting acronym for some opinions on DST.)

The USA followed Britain in 1918, with the passing of the Standard Time Act. Canada introduced their policy in the same year. The American public was against the move.

spring forward


“Many Americans viewed the practice as an absurd attempt to make late sleepers get up early,” reads the post on Almanac.

The Almanac points out that the move became increasingly important during wartime, with energy conservation being more important. The Almanac also suggests that people are wrong when they say farmers were behind the move to DST because farmers in actuality did not favour it.

They actually demanded an end to it. Eventually, it was repealed due to the protest of dairy farmers. It made its return in the 1940s, at the dawn of World War II. After that, it was used on and off in different parts of America.

Today, most of Canada is on DST, but portions have gone against it, remaining on Standard Time year-round. BC has suggested that it wants to move away from switching clocks and staying on DST all year, but they have to wait for their American neighbours to join the cause.

Car accidents and heart attacks

Some of the downfalls of switching the clocks forward are actually pretty serious.

The Almanac points to a Canadian researcher who suggested that there is an increase in car accidents. Other researchers have suggested it is linked to an increase in heart attacks. If you have pets, you’ve likely seen that they’re often disgruntled after springing forward, due to expecting a meal at a certain time, but instead having to adapt to the new human time.

It also impacts pups who are on a tight potty schedule.

Also, to put the debate to rest, it’s Daylight Saving, not savings.

The point of this article was to talk about the history of Daylight Saving, and why we continue to switch our clocks forward one hour. The history is pretty clear, but as to why, there doesn’t really seem to be any good definitive reason. At least not one that outweighs the potential negatives.

In any case, it might be beneficial to get to sleep a little bit earlier on Saturday night before we spring forward.

Amir AliAmir Ali

+ Humour & Weird
+ History
+ People
+ Curated