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Who do we have to blame - or thank - for daylight saving time?


As Michiganders get ready to "spring forward" their clocks this Sunday, state Representative Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton) has introduced a bill (HB 4303) to eliminate daylight saving time as a way to stay on Eastern Standard Time all year.

However, this isn't the first time legislation like this has been introduced in Michigan. It was last debated in 2017. And before that in 2015. And chances are you hear grumblings against (and perhaps praise for) the move each fall and spring when clocks make the switch.

Whether you're for daylight saving time or not, the question remains: who do we have to blame - or thank - for it?

Some credit Benjamin Franklin with the idea, others an Englishman named William Willett. Willett, a builder and outdoorsman, proposed the concept to British Parliament in 1908. And though it was rejected, he championed the cause until his death in 1915. But the modern concept of daylight saving time was first thought up in 1895 by entomologist George Hudson. Hudson, who lived in New Zealand, craved more after-work hours of sunlight in order to spend more time bug hunting, according to National Geographic.

Despite these earlier campaigns for DST, it wasn't officially enacted until 1916, when Germany introduced it in order to conserve energy during World War I. Many other countries, including the United States, followed suit.

On March 19, 1918, U.S. Congress adopted the Standard Time Act, which established defined time zones and daylight saving. Currently, Arizona, Hawaii, and U.S. territories don't participate in DST.

While the initial introduction provided benefits - such as energy conservation - newer studies have suggested there's not much benefit to daylight saving. In 2013, Michigan researchers wrote in the American Journal of Cardiology that there could be a chance for higher cardiovascular risk on the Sunday we spring forward and lose an hour of sleep. Impacts on mental health and productivity have been noted. And some claim the change is a trigger for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and headaches.

Despite the continued debate and proposed legislation, Michiganders will still find themselves doing at least one thing on Sunday: setting their clocks one hour ahead. Don't forget. 

Jodi is Michigan Public's Director of Digital Audiences, leading and developing the station’s overall digital strategy.
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