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Why do we have daylight savings time and when did it start?

As its name suggests, the purpose daylight savings time (changing the time) is to make better use of daylight and therefore save energy. Benjamin Franklin, one of America's founding fathers, mentions the time change in a letter from 1784 "The Cost of Light." Franklin humorously criticized the consumption of candles and suggested waking people up at sunrise to make better use of sunlight.

Drawing with clock and time change

For the first time, official daylight saving time was first introduced in Germany in 1916. In addition to saving raw materials, workers in the arms industry should be able to make better use of the days. After the end of the war, the government of the Weimar Republic abolished the time change. In the meantime, countries like France and Great Britain have also imposed daylight saving time on their populations. 

The National Socialists reintroduced daylight saving time to support the war economy from 1940 to 1945. In the postwar years with the division of Germany into occupation zones, things became even more complicated because in the West and the East, different times or summer times applied. The changeover was suspended again in 1950, until the oil crisis of the 1970s.

With a decision by the European Union, since 1996 uniform dates for the time change to summer time have been in effect throughout the European Union:

  • On the last Sunday in March, the clock is put forward one hour from 2 am to 3 am
  • On the last Sunday in October, the clock is set back from 3 am to 2 am

Effects of summer and winter time

The assumption that the clock change could have a positive effect on energy consumption has not been confirmed. Less electricity for lightning is actually used in the evenings during summer, but on the other side, more heating power is used in the morning in spring and autumn. 

Thus the increased consumption of heating energy compensates for the electricity saved. Also with the introduction of energy-saving lamps, time change has lost its original purpose.

Does daylight Savings affect mental health?

There are many research papers that warn about the massive effects of the time change. The time change affects the body like a little jet lag, from which people with sleep disorders and organic disorders suffer particularly. The reason for this lies in the disruption of the internal biological clock, which is disrupted by the time change. It also causes problems for domestic animals, especially those raised on farms. For example, by changing the working hours of farmers, the biological clock of breeding animals, such as cows, or sheep’s is disturbed, and certain period of adjustment is needed.


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