Daylight saving time wasn’t actually lobbied for by farmers, as many people think, the History Channel pointed out. At first, the U.S. adopted the practice as a wartime move in 1918 after the Germans did it in 1916.
“Agrarian interests led the fight for the 1919 repeal of national daylight saving time, which passed after Congress voted to override President Woodrow Wilson’s veto,” History Channel noted. “Rather than rural interests, it has been urban entities such as retail outlets and recreational businesses that have championed daylight saving over the decades.”
Now it has just become common practice. “In addition to the benefits of energy savings, fewer traffic fatalities, more recreation time and increased economic activity, Daylight Saving Time helps clear away the winter blues a little earlier,” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said in a 2014 statement. “Government analysis has proven that extra sunshine provides more than just smiles… We all just feel sunnier after we set the clocks ahead.”
Recent studies disagree with that rosy assessment, however. A “wave of research” has called into question the energy-saving benefits of the practice, the Portland Press Herald reported. A study published last year by Cornell researchers found that pushing our clocks forward an hour can even have mildly negative health effects.
“In summary, this study is one of the first to show that even mild changes to sleep patterns can affect human capital in significant ways,” the researchers, Lawrence Jin and Nicolas Ziebarth, wrote.
Regardless, most of the U.S. will spring forward Sunday, aside from Hawaii and Arizona, which opted out of daylight saving time.