Most Americans will enjoy an extra hour this weekend (Credit: Jernej Furman/ Flickr/ CC-BY-SA-2.0)

On November 5, 2023, most North Americans will bid farewell to Daylight Saving Time (DST) by moving the clocks back an hour. The simple action will help shift sunlight back into the morning during the shorter winter days. It will also add an extra 60 minutes to the weekend!

DST was first introduced by the German Empire during World War I as an energy-saving measure. The army wanted to reduce the need for artificial lighting, thus conserving fuel. The US and Britain adopted the practice shortly after. All the countries reverted to Standard Time once the war ended. DST was reinstated in the US during World War II. It was reversed nationally once the war ended in 1945, but states and districts were allowed to continue the tradition. They could even select their own start and stop DST dates.

This resulted in what Time Magazine called a "chaos of clocks." By 1965, Iowa had 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates. St. Paul, Minnesota, began daylight saving two weeks earlier than its twin city, Minneapolis, Minnesota, just nine miles away. Meanwhile, passengers on a 35-mile (56-km) bus ride from Steubenville, Ohio, to Moundsville, West Virginia, passed through seven time changes!

DST was standardized across the US in 1966 (Credit: Library of Congress/ Public Domain)

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 ended the confusion by setting the same "spring forward" and "fall back" dates for the entire country. But the law was not mandatory. Hawaii, most of Arizona, and the US territories — Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands — did not adopt DST.

The DST dates were initially set for the last Sundays in April and October. However, in 1986, US President Ronald Reagan changed the start date to the first Sunday in April. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 moved it up further to the second Sunday in March. The law also extended the "fall back" date to the first Sunday in November.

The biannual clock manipulation is not very popular. Many people believe the disruption in sleep patterns caused by the time change harms the elderly and those with serious illnesses. Studies have found a slight increase in heart attacks on the "spring forward" Sunday when we "lose" an hour. The time change is also believed to cause more driving and workplace accidents.

Many countries practice DST( Credit: Statista/ CC-BY-SA-2.0)

In 2019, the European Union voted to end DST. But the law has yet to go into effect. In March 2022, the US Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act to do the same. However, the bill did not pass the US House of Representatives, and a 2023 version has seen no movement. So, unless you live in Hawaii, Arizona, or the US territories, you have no choice but to enjoy the bonus hour this weekend!

Happy "Fall Back!"