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Fall Back

Time “falls” back 1 hour (standard time) on Sunday

By Eugenia Jones

It’s almost time to set the clocks back one hour as Kentucky makes its yearly transition away from daylight saving time (DST) to standard time.  The seasonal time change from daylight saving time to standard time will occur on Sunday, November 7 at 2:00 a.m.  In addition to adjusting manual clocks and watches, the annual time change also serves as a timely reminder to change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Since 2007, standard time has begun on the first Sunday of November and ended on the second Sunday of March with DST during the remaining time frame.  

Many people, including some in the government, would like to stay on daylight saving time year round and do away with standard time all together.  However, the United States actually did away with standard time and went totally to DST with the rationale of saving energy in 1974.  Soon after the permanent move to DST, support quickly dropped after people actually went through winters with no morning light.  Subsequently, standard time was once again adopted during winter months. Likewise, Russia tried using DST in their country but soon reverted to standard time.  (  

According to , “The Never-Ending DST Debate” by Anne Buckle, there are both advantages and disadvantages to standard time and DST.

Those who favor staying permanently on DST argue that longer evenings in the summer make it easier for people to get outside and exercise; however, at the same time, studies have found a decrease in productivity after the current spring transition to DST. 

DST, depending on the location, makes the use of artificial light less necessary. However, on the flip side, despite a decreased use of artificial light, DST does not necessarily save energy overall.  Due to society’s dependency on appliances, computers, etc., energy use seems to remain about the same regardless of DST or standard time.

Safety is perhaps one of the most convincing arguments for permanent DST as studies have shown decreases in pedestrian fatalities by 13% and decreased springtime robberies by 7%.

 However, most disturbing, are studies indicating time changes can impact human health-particularly permanent DST.

According to research conducted by Michael Herf, switching back and forth between standard time and DST results in more accidents and heart attacks afterward.  However, there are important health implications in choosing which clock to use on a permanent basis.  

Herf noted studies indicating DST interferes with the circadian rhythms (the body’s internal clock) of humans.  The DST clock is associated with more cancer, diabetes, and obesity with numbers seeming to indicate forcing people to wake up an hour earlier could increase cancer 10 to 20%.  According to Herf, all individuals, including those prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (depression), should prefer light in the morning.  Herf noted bright light has more impact in the morning when used to treat depression.

Government officials and individuals continue to debate the value of DST versus standard time on a permanent basis; however for now, it’s best to remember the old adage, “Fall back, spring forward,” when setting clocks for standard time in the fall and DST in the spring.

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