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What Is Daylight Saving Time? It Was Created To Make Better Use Of Natural Sunlight

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With the end of daylight saving time happening on Nov. 6, Sunday morning will be just a bit more relaxing as we can "fall back" to sleep for one more hour thanks to daylight savings time. But have you ever wondered why we have to change our clocks twice a year or asked the question: What is daylight saving time? Theories behind the practice of changing the clocks has reportedly been traced back to the times of Benjamin Franklin — the scientific mind that most people credit for discovering electricity — who thought we could save energy by utilizing more of the day’s sunlight.

Live Science, a science news website, reported that Franklin may have implement daylight saving (not "savings," as many people say) time because at one time he "reckoned that people could conserve energy and revel in an extra hour of daylight if they moved their clocks forward in the spring."

But Franklin didn’t actually "invent" daylight saving time, although he is given the credit for once proposing a similar idea. According to History.com, Franklin only proposed a change in sleep schedules, not the time itself.

As History.com explains, "After being unpleasantly stirred from sleep at 6 a.m. by the summer sun, the founding father penned a satirical essay in which he calculated that Parisians, simply by waking up at dawn, could save the modern-day equivalent of $200 million through 'the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.'"

GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images
Michel Chaptas, a watch collector, looks at the mechanism of one of his watches on March 24, 2015 in Central France. This year, clocks will spring forward an hour to summer time on March 30, 2015. Daylight saving time was first introduced in 1973 with the oil crisis for the sake of saving energy and is applied today in more than 70 countries. AFP PHOTO / GUILLAUME SOUVANT AFP/AFP/GUILLAUME SOUVANT/STR /GUS (Photo credit should read GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images)

According to History.com, it was actually an Englishman named William Willet who proposed the idea in 1907 that the clocks should be moved forward by 80 minutes between April and October so that people could take advantage of the sunlight. But, he died in 1915 before the day that his idea became implemented, which happened for the first time in Germany on April 30, 1916. Weeks later, the United Kingdom embraced the change and the United States first implemented it years later on March 31, 1918

Although much of the original campaigning for daylight saving time pointed to energy conservation, modern day evidence for total electricity savings doesn't conclusively support that it actually is a cost-saving benefit.

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Daylight saving time still remains to be a fairly confusing and archaic concept. Along with changing evidence of how it saves money on energy and adding to the somewhat puzzling practice, Arizona, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa do not observe daylight saving time.

Even though your computer and your smartphone will automatically change themselves once 2 a.m. hits on Nov. 6, knowing why we "spring forward, fall back" helps make sense of why many will commute home in the dark. Or just knowing why can be a useful tidbit to keep in your back pocket for future water cooler discussions.