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How Does Daylight Saving Time Work? It's Actually Pretty Simple

It happens every year, and yet it still throws people for a loop. Daylight saving time is the practice of turning your clocks back or forward an hour to make up for "lost daylight," thereby making the days feel a bit longer. However, despite its recurrence, its origins and why we do it in the first place may seem a bit illusive. How does daylight savings work? Luckily, it's a fairly simple practice with fairly simple goals.

The concept of daylight saving time has been around since the Act of 1918, but was repealed soon afterwards, leaving the decision up to local jurisdictions, according to National Geographic. But, according to USA Today, in 1966 President Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act into law making it a national policy that has been followed ever since. Well, in all of the states except Hawaii and Arizona.

Simply put, the goal behind daylight saving time is to save the daylight hours for when people are most awake and about, according to the same National Geographic piece. On the first Sunday in November, people set their clocks back one hour ("fall back"), and set them one hour forward on the second Sunday of March ("spring forward.") This simple act is supposed to give people the most amount of daylight possible to be productive, as well as improve safety on roads and in towns, according to USA Today.

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However, there are several drawbacks to the system that certainly deserve an honorary mention. Namely, concerns about the consequences of disrupting our natural circadian rhythms. According to CNN, the risk of stroke and heart attack also rises significantly in the weeks following daylight saving.

However, the change is a small one, only one hour, so most people should be able to adjust normally, without disturbance. With the first Sunday in November right around the corner, it's always best to keep daylight saving in the back of your mind (or calendar) so you're not thrown off guard when the daylight hours suddenly change.