Waste of daylight: The history of daylight saving time and some fun trivia

Daylight robbery occurs every spring when clocks are moved forward one hour and people lose an hour’s sleep.

When Daylight Saving Time was first introduced in Britain, protesters demanded the return of the stolen hour. Patrons of late night bars in the United States have been known to riot in protest of losing an hour of drinking time.

DST forces people to get up earlier, make better use of long summer days, and use less energy in the evening. When the U.S. Congress extended Daylight Saving Time from 6 to 8 months in 1973, it saved the American economy an estimated 300,000 barrels of oil a year.

Japan, India and China are the only major industrialized countries that do not observe daylight saving, which begins in the northern hemisphere between March and April and ends between September and November. In the southern hemisphere the schedule is reversed.

Even though Antarctica has 24 hours of broad daylight in the summer, many research stations observe Daylight Saving Time in order to synchronize their schedules with supply stations in Chile or New Zealand.

Because the length of days changes so little year-round close to the Equator, tropical countries do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

If it were possible to turn back the clock to 1914, there would be no daylight saving time. Although the idea was first suggested by Benjamin Franklin in the 1770s, it was not taken seriously until English builder William Willett proposed the idea in 1907. The first country to implement daylight saving as an energy conservation measure was Germany in 1915.

During the Second World War, Britain imposed Double Summer Time. Clocks were set two hours ahead during the summer and one hour ahead during the winter.

People do not always agree about the benefits of DST. The time change may create feelings of sleep deprivation for some people, and make sleep even more difficult for insomniacs. On the other hand, moving clocks forward has been found to reduce pedestrian deaths, as well as violent crimes such as muggings.

Daylight saving time may scare the living daylights out of some people. Swedish researchers have found that the number of heart attacks increases in the week after moving clocks ahead.

In 1999, West Bank terrorists got confused about the timing on their bombs because the West Bank was on Daylight Saving Time and Israel was not. The bombs exploded an hour early, killing the terrorists instead of the intended victims.

When the clocks fall back at 2:00 in the morning, all Amtrak trains in the U.S. stop for one hour.  When the clocks move forward in the spring, all the trains fall an hour behind schedule.

As a result of the spring time change, no babies are born between 2 and 3 a.m. on the day of the change.

Laura Cirioli of North Carolina gave birth to twins in November 2007 when the clocks were due to change. Peter was born at 1:32 a.m. and his sister Allison was born 34 minutes later, after the clocks changed. Allison’s time of birth was recorded as 1:06 a.m, thus making her legally older than her elder brother!