It’s Time to Spring Forward

Spring ForwardThe phrase “spring forward, fall back” goes back decades. One of the first users was the Heppner Gazette-Times in Oregon, which gave that advice to its readers in 1928.  And yes, it is almost that dreaded time for the springing forward of the clock. On Sunday at 2 a.m., the clock will move forward an hour. Yes, that means you’ll lose one hour of sleep, but it also means you will also get one extra hour of springtime sunshine.

At least, that’s true for most Canadians. Those who live in Fort St. John, Charlie Lake, Taylor and Dawson Creek in British Columbia, Creston in the East Kootenays, and most of Saskatchewan (except Denare Beach and Creighton) don’t observe Daylight Saving Time.

If you’re wondering why (most of) America goes through this routine every year, look to Germany. Germany implemented an official Daylight Saving Time during World War I to save money on lighting and divert it to the war. Thirty-one other countries followed suit.

In the U.S., Daylight Saving Time was repealed after the war but then brought back by politicians during World War II. It was implemented again in the 1970s during the oil embargo. Now, it’s a standard practice in most of North America.

The history of the practice is complicated: it had informally existed in Ancient Egypt and had even been suggested by Ben Franklin. However, the “modern” day inventor is thought to be either early riser Englishman William Willett or New Zealand insect collector George Hudson.

On the plus side, Daylight Saving Time brings about a reduction in crime. Thieves tend to do their dirty work under the cover of darkness. So creating an extra hour of evening light helps people get home during daylight hours, which appears to drop crime rates dramatically.

A word of caution: a Swedish study found an increase in the number of heart attacks during the first three days after clocks “spring forward.” The disruption in the chrono-biological rhythms, the loss of sleep and the resulting sleep disturbance are probable factors. A separate study by McMaster University that analyzed fatal traffic accidents over a 10-year period found a 17 per cent spike in the number of fatalities on the Monday after the daylight-saving-time shift as opposed to an average Monday. Maybe this is why Kazakhstan, Russia and Egypt have abolished Daylight Saving Time in the last decade.

Since we don’t have an option (aside from running an hour late until November), I think it could just be a good reason for a long nap on Sunday.

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