You may ask each year how many minutes of daylight individuals gain at various periods of the year. That is a reasonable issue, especially when you consider the saying “Fall back, spring forward.” Many of these responses in the United States depend on Daylight Saving Time (DST).

In early spring (or late winter), the majority of Americans lose an hour of sleep, while in late autumn, they gain an hour. Daylight Saving Time affects our sleeping patterns and, in part, the amount of sunlight we will see during business hours.

Undoubtedly, DST plays a significant part in our daily life. Where did the concept originate, and why was it implemented? Perhaps most importantly, why does it continue to exist? Let’s investigate the rationale behind this century-old practise and determine the kind of time modifications that will occur this year.


When Do Days Start Getting Longer?

Between March and June, when the sun rises higher in the sky, we gain two additional minutes of daylight per day. After Daylight Saving Time (starting on the second Sunday of March at 2:00 a.m.), it is simple to monitor how much daylight is added each day. Typically, it is darker in the morning and brighter in the late afternoon. In addition, the longer the sun remains above the horizon, the greater a person’s latitude and distance from the equator.

In August, the daily loss of daylight begins to accelerate by two minutes until the winter solstice, which occurs between December 20 and December 23. At the solstice, the North Pole is furthest distant from the sun, resulting in the year’s shortest day. The longest day of the year occurs on June 21, the summer solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere is closest to the sun, resulting in the longest day of the year.

From the vernal equinox in March through the summer solstice in June, the Northern Hemisphere experiences an increase in daylight. This is the reason why individuals in Australia experience winter during what is summer for those living north of the equator.

Why Daylight Saving Time Alters

Simply explained, the Earth controls this change, specifically the tilt of the Earth’s axis. The axis on which the Earth spins is inclined at 23.5 degrees relative to the axis around which it revolves every 365 days — or 366 days during a Leap Year. The tilted axis regulates the number of daylight hours each day. Depending on a person’s latitude, daylight hours vary.

For instance, the slanted regions of Earth receive more than 12 hours of sunlight per day. Conversely, regions facing away from the sun receive less sunlight. As the Earth revolves around the sun, the portion of the planet that is tilted toward or away from the sun varies over the course of a year. You can track the precise dawn and sunset hours for your location and even view a graph of day duration on a number of websites. This might help you determine how many hours of sunlight each day will have.

The bulk of the world uses DST to keep track of when we begin gaining and losing daylight hours during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. But what is the precise function and history of DST?

The origins and intent of Daylight Saving Time

Some people attribute the idea to Benjamin Franklin because of an essay he wrote in 1784. Others assert that either Canada or Germany initiated Daylight Saving Time in the early twentieth century. Regardless, the United States government needed a strategy to improve production while conserving energy during World War I, and Daylight Saving Time, which takes advantage of the later hours of sunshine from April through October, appeared to be an ideal option. During World War II, when the United States joined the war effort, the federal government ordered states to follow Daylight Saving Time.

After World War II, the federal government permitted states to observe Daylight Saving Time. The Uniform Time Act was approved by Congress in 1966, standardising the period of Daylight Saving Time. Due to the 2005 enactment of the Energy Policy Act, Daylight Saving Time has been extended by four weeks, from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.

The declared purpose of Daylight Saving Time is to conserve energy. In light of this, Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act to save 10,000 barrels of oil every day. Legislators anticipated a decrease in oil usage as a result of a drop in the amount of energy used by enterprises during daylight hours. Unfortunately, the amount of energy savings, if any, is very impossible to calculate. Regardless of energy savings from fossil fuels, Daylight Saving Time persists in the majority of the United States.

Luminescence and Human Health

The “loss of an hour of sleep” is a common complaint about Daylight Saving Time. Joseph S. Takahashi, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at UT Southwestern, investigated the physiological effects of desynchronization. This twice-yearly desynchronization of our biological clocks has been related to elevated health risks such as depression, obesity, heart attack, cancer, and even car accidents, according to the UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Every cell in the human body is capable of keeping track of time. Changes in everyday patterns result in sleep deprivation, memory loss, learning difficulties, and impaired cognitive function. Dr. Takahashi’s laboratory identified the CLOCK gene, “the first circadian gene in mammals,” in 1997. Mutated CLOCK genes may delay circadian functions, resulting in metabolic, behavioural, and cognitive dysfunctions.

In 2016, Dr. Takahashi’s lab identified the first genes that govern sleep in mice. The study identified two genes in mice that regulate the amount of rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep required. A healthy sleep pattern requires long periods of non-REM sleep, during which the brain is not processing memories or dreaming. Nearly twenty percent of the population suffers from sleeping disorders, and these data indicate ways to improve their sleep hygiene. Therefore, Daylight Saving Time and other environmental factors play a significant influence in altering human health.

Where Does Daylight Savings Time Still Apply?

Currently, 48 states observe Daylight Saving Time. Arizona opted out of the practise in 1968 as a result of the extreme summer heat. NASA reports that the Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona observes daylight saving time.

Due to its tropical latitude, Hawaii has never observed Daylight Saving Time under the Uniform Time Act. In 1933, the state legislature briefly instituted Daylight Saving Time. Within three weeks, the state revoked the law. In addition, the climate in Hawaii is rather stable, therefore Daylight Saving Time has little impact on energy use.

Every election cycle seems to bring up the question of Daylight Saving Time again. The Sunshine Protection Act, presented in 2020 by Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, is a contemporary illustration of how Daylight Saving Time remains a significant topic of political and scientific discourse. In the meanwhile, the European Union has resolved to end biannual time adjustments in 2019. Several states in the United States are exploring similar legislation owing to the health dangers.

This year, Daylight Saving Time began on March 13 and ends on November 6. Consider going to bed earlier and adjusting your clocks and alarms in advance.

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