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Don’t forget, clocks spring forward this weekend

Posted on Friday, March 7, 2014 at 2:09 pm

03-06-14 Daylight Savings 001Don’t let the below-freezing temperatures fool you: At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 9, our clocks will move an hour ahead — or spring forward — to begin daylight saving time 2014.

One day — maybe — the weather will turn toward actual warmth. Add that to the extra hour of sunlight to those temperatures, and you may feel your mood change, too.

“Most people can switch their schedules right away. It really depends on the individual and how much stress they have in their lives,” says naturopathic doctor Chamandeep Bali. “If you’re the type of person who is always ‘go go go’, you’ll be sleeping less.”

Many electronic devices, like your cell phone and computer, automatically adjust when Daylight Saving Time begins or ends. Daylight Saving Time is also a good time to change batteries in smoke detectors.

So, why does Daylight Saving Time begin at 2 a.m., and why shift our clocks at all?

Ben Franklin first suggested shifting the clocks to save on candles, but no one took him up on his idea at the time.

His thoughts regarding DST had little to do with telling time. He was more interested in the cost of candles. While Franklin was U.S. minister (now we call them ambassadors) to France over 200 years ago, he figured residents of Paris could save 1,281 hours of candle-burning a year if they adopted his plan.

Alas, he was ahead of his time and his idea was not appreciated. He claimed that if folks would turn clocks one hour ahead for summer mornings instead of sleeping to their regular wake-up time, they would burn fewer candles in the evenings.

Candles were expensive and ever the penny saver, Franklin said they would be saving money. We might wonder what his father thought of this as he had supported a family of 17 children by being a soap and candle maker.

In the United States, 2 a.m. was originally chosen as the changeover time because it was practical and minimized disruption. Most people are at home and this was the time when the fewest trains were running.

It is also late enough to minimally affect bars and restaurants, and it prevents the day from switching to yesterday, which would be confusing. It is early enough that the entire continental U.S. switches by daybreak, and the changeover occurs before most early shift workers and early churchgoers are affected.

The larger reason for shifting our clocks, however, is energy conservation.

The first official national time shift wasn’t until 1918. Then the United States stopped the practice, started again during World War II for energy conservation reasons, stopped when the war was over and re-started with the Uniform Time Act in 1966. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 lengthened daylight saving to eight months instead of six months.

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