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Don’t Forget to ‘Fall Back’ This Weekend: But Why Do We Change Our Clocks Twice a Year?


As the crisp air of autumn sets in, residents across many parts of the United States prepare for a familiar ritual: the changing of the clocks. Come Sunday, a significant portion of the country will shift back from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time, granting many a coveted extra hour of sleep. The practice, entrenched in public consciousness, has a storied history and has been the subject of debate, with states like Georgia grappling with its implications and considering alternatives.

A Brief History of Daylight Saving Time

The concept of Daylight Saving Time has been around for over a century, with roots in the idea of making better use of daylight during the evening hours. It was first proposed by George Vernon Hudson in 1895 and was later popularized by William Willett in 1907. However, it was not widely adopted until World War I, when Germany and its allies implemented the time change to conserve coal by reducing the need for artificial lighting. The United States followed suit in 1918, with the idea being to conserve energy resources for the war effort.

Since then, the United States has seen several adjustments to the practice, with the most recent being the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which extended DST by four weeks.

The Intriguing Case of Georgia

Georgia, like most U.S. states, observes Daylight Saving Time, beginning on the second Sunday in March and ending on the first Sunday in November. The transition back to Standard Time means that the clocks are set back one hour, effectively moving an hour of daylight from the evening to the morning.

Efforts in Georgia to End the Clock Changing Tradition

In recent years, there has been a growing movement in Georgia, as in many other states, to do away with the semi-annual time change. Proponents of this change argue that the practice of switching clocks twice a year is outdated and can lead to various negative health effects, such as disrupted sleep patterns, increased heart attack risk, and a rise in traffic accidents.

The Georgia General Assembly has seen legislators introducing bills to keep the state on a permanent time standard. There is a debate over whether to adopt permanent Standard Time or permanent Daylight Saving Time. The latter would mean that the sun would set later in the evening year-round, which supporters say could benefit commerce and allow for more outdoor activities in the evening hours. However, this option would require federal legislation, as current federal law only allows states to opt into permanent Standard Time, not Daylight Saving Time.

In 2021, Georgia’s Senate passed a bill that would have the state observe Daylight Saving Time year-round. However, for this to come into effect, Congress would have to pass federal legislation allowing states to make this choice. Despite the bill passing the Senate, Georgia, like many states, is in a holding pattern, waiting for Congress to act.

The Impact and the Future

While changing the clocks may seem like a minor inconvenience, it can have a considerable impact on people’s lives and routines. There is evidence to suggest that the disruption to the body’s internal clock can have significant implications for health and safety.

The debate in Georgia reflects a broader national conversation about the value and relevance of Daylight Saving Time in the 21st century. With technological advancements and changes in lifestyle since the inception of DST, the practice may not hold the same benefits it once did. As states like Georgia consider a permanent switch, the question becomes not just when to change the clocks, but whether to change them at all.

As Sunday approaches and Georgians turn their clocks back one hour, they may well be wondering if it could be one of the last times they do so. The future of timekeeping and the ritual of changing clocks is uncertain, but what remains clear is the desire for a system that best serves the health, safety, and well-being of the public. Whether this leads to an end to clock changing in Georgia and nationwide remains to be seen, but the conversation continues to tick forward with the times.

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