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Daylight Saving Time 2011 Ends This Weekend

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A gentle reminder – the time change is coming up. Don’t worry, though. This one is the cool time change that gives you an extra hour of sleep, unlike its evil, sleep sucking stepsister in Spring. This weekend, at 2:00 AM on November 6th, Daylight Saving Time will end, and revert back to Standard Time. You’ll need to wind back the clock one hour, going back in time (incredible!) to 1:00 AM, at least for all of your old-fashioned gadgetry that won’t do it automatically. If you live in Arizona or Hawaii, just ignore this article. You guys are some of the lucky few that get to avoid this hassle altogether, joining Asia (no, not you Iran, Syria, Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia), most of Africa (apologies to Morocco and Namibia), and a little over half of South America (sorry Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil – you’re stuck time traveling with the rest of us). The southern part of Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Canada round out the time changing party. No word on whether or not the penguins in Antarctica bother.

Confused yet? That raises the question – why do we even bother with Daylight Saving Time in the first place? Is that extra hour of daylight shifted to the afternoon from the morning all that important? The problems with the system are obvious – people coming in an hour late or early to work or school because they forgot to change their clocks, lost sleep, and messed up sleep schedules that leave a good number of us feeling drained for months. So, what do we get out of the deal? Do we get anything out of the deal?

A few people in the past seemed to think so. The idea might have started with Benjamin Franklin. Ever keen to be early to bed and early to rise, Franklin noticed that the Sun was getting up before he did, and (possibly half kidding) wondered publicly about how much more could be accomplished with that lost hour. Granted, this was before electric lighting. The man had a point.

No one got serious about the suggestion until World Wars I and II, when both sides of the wars enacted Daylight Saving Time at different points in order to cut down on energy consumption, rerouting resources into the war effort. It was thought that by tacking on an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon, less electricity would be needed overall. For a while, they were right.

Today, things are less certain. Studies have been done both supporting and debunking the use of Daylight Saving Time as a means of cutting energy consumption. One thing that doesn’t need to be researched, though – that lost hour sleep doesn’t really go over well with anyone. You can check out a little bit more about those studies in this article, detailing both sides of the argument.

So, once again, don’t forget – this week, set your clocks back one hour for the end of Daylight Saving Time. After all, the only thing worse than coming to work an hour late because you botched the time change is coming into work an hour early.

Update – Thank you to commenters Jason McCormick and David for pointing out errors.