CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hopefully, you set your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night, or you’re going to be late Sunday morning.

Daylight saving time, which ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, was first enacted by the federal government on March 19, 1918, during World War I, as a way to conserve coal. 

THE OBSERVERS

The practice became federal law in 1966 with the passage of the Uniform Time Act. Only two states don't observe it — Hawaii and Arizona. Parts of Indiana didn't observe daylight saving time until 2006 when it became a law statewide.

“States may exempt themselves from observing Daylight Saving Time by State law. If a State chooses to observe Daylight Saving Time, it must begin and end on federally mandated dates,” according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).

Other non-observers include American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

THE PURPOSE

USDOT said daylight saving time is observed for several reasons:

  • To save energy

"The sun sets one hour later in the evenings, so the need to use electricity for household lighting and appliances is reduced. People tend to spend more time outside in the evenings during daylight saving time, which reduces the need to use electricity in the home," said USDOT. 

"Also, because the sunrise is very early in the morning during the summer months, most people will awake after the sun has already risen, which means they turn on fewer lights in their homes," the agency added.

  • To save lives and prevent traffic injuries

"More people travel to and from school and work and complete errands during the daylight," according to USDOT.

  • To reduce crime

"More people are out conducting their affairs during the daylight rather than at night, when more crime occurs," USDOT said.

A NEW DAWN?

Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida has introduced the Sunshine Protection Act, which would keep the entire country in daylight saving time. 

Supporters said the move would cut down on car accidents, decrease crime, and increase energy efficiency -- the same reasons laid out by the USDOT.

In fact, during the energy crisis of the 1970s, Congress ordered states to go on year-round daylight saving time between January 1974 and April 1975.

Another big selling point is the economic advantages including more tourism dollars generated by a later sunset. 

"Our fishing industry would love it if they could get more daylight time on the coast," said former Charlotte City Councilman and state representative Andy Dulin. "The folks in the mountains would love to have people on the hiking trails longer."

Opponents of the Sunshine Protection Act said it could create new problems like a later sunrise. In many places, the sun wouldn't come up until 8 a.m., which could cause safety issues for students going to school in the morning. 

That point was also brought up during the energy crisis of the 1970s. Some parents and school districts worried about kids walking to school or standing at bus stops in the dark.

TO YOUR HEALTH

While most of us welcome later sunsets, losing an hour of sleep can throw us for a loop. Michelle Drerup, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic said those who are already sleep-deprived tend to feel the ill effects of the time change the most.

“One of the most common complaints that people will feel is fatigue, and it may be physical fatigue or it may be mental fatigue,” said Dr. Drerup. “They may also have difficulty with concentrating, focusing, and may feel more irritable”

Sleep-wake cycles change as people age, so adults 65 and older may struggle with the time change more than others.

“(They) tend to go to bed earlier, wake up in the middle of the night and have sleep interrupted in the middle of the night by frequent waking and difficulty getting back to sleep,” said David Earnest, professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at Texas A&M University.

HOW TO COPE

For those who feel like they’re still dragging on Monday morning, Dr. Drerup said instead of reaching for another cup of coffee or taking a long nap -- try getting outside and taking a walk instead.

For those worried about hitting the snooze over and over on Monday morning, Dr. Dreup suggests getting some light exposure.

“The best thing to do would be to seek light in the morning,” she said. “Light exposure is the single most efficient entrainer for our circadian rhythm, and getting that light exposure sends the signal to turn off our melatonin release and helps us awaken.”

If you don’t suffer from sleep difficulties, Dr. Drerup said taking a short 10-20 minute nap is okay – but dosing off before bedtime in the evening or taking too long of a nap isn’t a good idea because it can throw off your sleep routine.

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