Most Americans will “spring ahead” and set their clocks forward one hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, marking the beginning of Daylight Saving Time.
Daylight Saving Time first was proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 as a way to conserve energy. London builder William Willett advanced the idea when he wrote the pamphlet, “Waste of Daylight” in 1907. In this publication, Willett proposed turning clocks 20 minutes ahead by 20 minutes on each of four Sundays in April, and turning them back by the same amount on four Sundays in September.
DST has been used inconsistently in Europe and the U.S. since World War I, leading to a lot of confusion and time differences from region to region. It wasn’t until 1986 that the U.S. enacted legislation for a more consistent process. However, some U.S. territories still do not observed DST, including Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Arizona.
There are some big benefits to daylight savings time. It has been shown to save energy, prevent traffic injuries and reduce nighttime crimes. But what about sleep? Changes in your child’s schedule can affect how well they sleep. Parents can help their children adjust to the time change by maintaining consistent bedtimes, wake times and nap times. Our best advice is to try not to compensate for the lost hour on Sunday morning by letting your child sleep in; this delays the transition. Some parents find it easier to start the adjustments on Saturday night, rather than waiting until Sunday night, a school night.
The Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the only sleep center in the state dedicated solely to the care of children and teens. The center has two locations (Milwaukee and New Berlin) both accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and staffed by four board-certified pediatric sleep specialists.
Learn more about Lynn D’Andrea, MD.