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Fall back into autumn with a change of pace

by Archives October 4, 2006

The first month of school has passed. Students have finally settled down, moved in, found their classes and bought their books. On Saturday, Sept. 30th at precisely 11:38 p.m., summer officially turned into fall.

It is also time for yet another change in the schedule, one known as Daylight Saving Time (DST). This time “saving” device maximizes the extended daylight hours in the summer months by turning forward the clocks by one hour in the spring and then back to the regular time at the start of fall.

We have Mr. Benjamin Franklin to thank for this idea, although he isn’t the actual creator of DST. He suggested the idea in the 1770s, but it wasn’t taken seriously until more than a century later.

William Willet, an English writer, revived the idea of DST once more in 1907, with energy conservation in mind. Germany was the first to implement it, with Britain close behind. Canada, the U.S. and the rest of Europe followed sometime around the First World War. In 1918, U.S. Congress decreed that the country should observe DST to conserve resources for the war effort, but the law proved so unpopular that it was abandoned until the Second World War, when it was reinstated. Even then, the practice North Americans now take for granted didn’t find firm footing until 1966, when it was made uniformly madatory across the U.S. with Canada following suit.

But DST isn’t practiced worldwide. Even parts of Quebec, Ontario and all of Saskatchewan do not observe DST.

Beginning in March 2007, DST will extend for one month. It begins on the second Sunday in March for most of the U.S. and Canada, and will last until the first Sunday of November.

The next DST change is on Oct. 29, where time will fast forward from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. That “lost” hour can have a bigger effect on some than some might realize. Brynn Romeo, 24, works night shifts from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at Air Canada.

“The time change doesn’t really effect me right now because I get to leave work one hour early. But when I have to work that extra hour, it’s long, and I’m pretty sure we don’t get paid for it,” he said.

Bars in Montreal operate differently when faced with the extra daylight hour. Some are cleared to stay open one hour later, while others can push the limits until the police show up.

There have been studies conducted by the American Department of Transportation discussing the pros and cons of DST. Particularly of concern are people driving home during the daylight hours. The studies have shown the accident rate is actually higher the first few days following the DST change because of lack of sleep, which leads to drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

There are a few tips that are given to help those that don’t adjust so easily to time change. You can try adjusting your schedule a few days before the actual DST, like moving your meal times and going to bed a bit earlier. Try to combat fatigue with midday naps is also helpful, as you may be tired from losing an hour of sleep.

And as for students, they’ll have extra hours of daylight to regenerate after late nights of studying, partying or working. Just that little bit more sunlight on our faces can help when we may not have gotten all the sleep we need.

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