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Daylight saving time alters more than sleep

At 2 a.m. Sunday, we switch from Central Standard Time to Central Daylight Time. Most of us take that to simply mean we sleep one hour less. "I don't have time to wake up early," said Katie Gorman, Grand Forks. Her mother agreed. "You wake up fee...

At 2 a.m. Sunday, we switch from Central Standard Time to Central Daylight Time. Most of us take that to simply mean we sleep one hour less.

"I don't have time to wake up early," said Katie Gorman, Grand Forks. Her mother agreed.

"You wake up feeling sluggish," Joanne Gorman said. "It seems pretty pointless."

We have "sprung forward" to supposedly use less energy in lighting our homes by taking advantage of the longer and later daylight hours from now until the first Sunday in November.

It's not a new idea.

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The concept of using the most of daylight hours caught the attention of Ben Franklin in 1784.

"Imagine," Franklin wrote to a newspaper, "how many candles could be saved if people woke up earlier in the warmer months."

Daylight saving time was instituted in the U.S. during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight from April to October, according to webexhibits.org.

States were required to observe the time change during World War II, as well. Between the wars and after World War II, states and communities chose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time.

In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 added four weeks in 2007, with the hope that it would save 10,000 barrels of oil daily through reduced use of power by businesses.

Studies done in the 1970s by the U.S. Department of Transportation show the country's electricity usage is reduced by about 1 percent each day with daylight saving time. But the savings is offset by the increased use of gasoline during the summer travel months, so the net result is little or no energy is saved.

Doing more

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There are pros and cons to each theory on the need for more daylight hours.

- Waiting until the first Sunday to fall back will give extra daylight hours to voters on Election Day, increasing turnout. That theory will be tested this year when Election Day comes after the first Sunday, as it will in 2021, 2027 and 2032.

- Studies show there are fewer violent crimes when there's more light during evening hours. The November switch means more night light for trick-or-treaters, but recent studies show most of them still wait until dark.

- Several studies have shown a small reduction in traffic fatalities, but research data from Carnegie Mellon University said pedestrian deaths from cars soar after 6 p.m. when clocks are set back in the fall.

- Kris Ringwall of the North Dakota State University Extension Service said wild cattle, horses and hamsters have a significant response to daylight length when it comes to fertility.

- A poll by the U.S. Department of Transportation said people do more in the evening when there's more light.

- Groggy workers coming home or showing up the next morning isn't a good thing. Researchers at Michigan State University recently found an increase in workplace injuries of more than 5 percent on the first Monday after clocks move forward.

- Perhaps the most practical thing about daylight saving time is emphasized by local fire departments: When you change your clock in the spring and fall, change the battery in your smoke alarms.

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- Some believe the extra hour of daylight, however, means school-age children may not be getting to sleep when they should. Or children can be left waiting for the bus in the prelight hours in the morning.

Jeanne Thibert, Manvel, N.D., agrees that our bodies are meant to coincide with daylight.

"I totally dislike daylight saving time," Thibert said. "It doesn't seem to make sense when everything comes together naturally."

Mike Wegscheider tends bar at Joe Black's.

"The nice thing about having it light later in the day is that it makes you forget about winter," Wegscheider said. "But daylight saving time in the fall always hits us on a Saturday, and it's tiring to stay open that extra hour."

"It's part of living in the Midwest," Jason Edwardson, Grand Forks, said of dealing with the changes.

"If people don't like it, they can move to the states that don't have it."

Arizona, with the exception of some Native American reservations, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa do not observe daylight saving time.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1262; (800) 477-6572, ext. 262; or send e-mail to jjohnson2@gfherald.com .

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