The good and bad of ‘falling back’ and ‘springing forward’

Do we still need Daylight Saving Time?

Learn why we change clocks twice a year in this brief history of Daylight Saving Time.
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Learn why we change clocks twice a year in this brief history of Daylight Saving Time.

This weekend comes with a bonus – a 25-hour day marking the end of daylight saving time for the year.

Clocks will be set to “fall back” an hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday. Daylight saving time officially runs from 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March through 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November.

And there are so many ways to use the extra hour: Further contemplation about who to vote for on Tuesday, extra sleep, a chance to squeeze in a few more errands or more time to read The Eagle’s Sunday edition.

Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, proposed a bill to do away with daylight saving in Kansas. Masterson had said he saw no justification for it anymore. The bill died in committee after a hearing in March.

Research about daylight saving time shows a mix of positive and negative effects.

For example, it’s associated with fewer robberies but more accidents, a slight boost to health but more depression.


The idea behind daylight saving time was to make better use of daylight and conserve energy – or, in days past, candles. Some credit a 1784 essay by Benjamin Franklin for the idea that changing how we track time would make for later summer sunsets, thus we would use less indoor lighting in the evening before bedtime.

Daylight saving time was adopted, abandoned and re-adopted various times in history. Then, in 1966, Congress adopted the Uniform Time Act. But states maintain the right to exempt themselves from daylight saving via an act of the legislature.

Right now, Hawaii and most of Arizona don’t observe daylight saving time.

Lawmakers around the country, including in Kansas, periodically propose doing away with the “spring forward” and “fall back” system to instead keep clocks set the same year-round.

What research shows

As one might guess, negative effects are largely tied to spring’s loss of sleep, while health generally benefits from the extra hour in autumn.

Here’s a look at what the research shows about the impact of daylight saving time.

▪ A study published in The American Journal of Cardiology found that heart attacks increase the first few days after people “spring forward” in March.

▪ Cornell University researchers found that fall daylight saving time boosts population health for about four days following the clock change. And the study didn’t find significant health decreases from spring daylight saving.

▪ A study published in the journal Epidemiology found increased depressive episodes in the fall, because the sudden change caused people to leave work in the dark.

▪ Research in the American Economic Journal found that spring daylight saving caused more than 30 traffic deaths per year because of sleep deprivation.

▪ The tradition appears to benefit public safety with an estimated 7 percent decrease in robberies following daylight saving time, according to a study published in the Review of Economics and Statistics. Researchers estimated that saved $59 million per year in social costs.

▪ The U.S. Department of Energy found annual energy use falls about 0.03 percent because of daylight saving. The small drop might seem insignificant, but it’s enough to power 100,000 homes for a year.

Gabriella Dunn: 316-268-6400, @gabriella_dunn