Here’s the reason we’re setting our clocks back in November instead of October.

Michelle Darrisaw
October 4, 2017

Even for those who haven’t taken the time to pay attention to the calendar in the last few weeks, one can’t help but notice that fall is in the air.

The leaves have changed from basic green to vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds. Southerners are starting to pack up their shorts and t-shirts, in favor of sweaters and boots. Pumpkin spice everything is lining the shelves at our favorite grocery stores, and fair operators are beginning to set up ferris wheels and other attractions at state fairs across the South. Needless to say, autumn is here. But the true sign that fall has officially arrived is the extra hour of sleep gained because of shorter days and longer nights.

Although daylight saving time is ending soon—Sunday, November 5, to be exact—some of you may remember that prior to 2007, we would typically set our clocks back around Halloween. From 1987 through 2006, daylight saving time actually started on the first Sunday in April and continued through the last Sunday in October. However, we can thank former president George W. Bush for the fact that we’re "falling back" and rewinding our clocks at a later date.

When the U.S. government changed the dates to coincide with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was a bill passed to offset the country’s energy problems, four extra weeks were added. This resulted in daylight saving time being pushed from the first week of April to the second week of March, thus causing the date to end in the first week of November instead of the last week in October. 

On the other hand, Bush can’t be attributed to the loss of sunlight associated with daylight savings ending, as it was Benjamin Franklin who first suggested resetting clocks in the summer to preserve energy. Franklin also recommended we adjust our sleep schedules accordingly to take advantage of the natural light during the warm season.

According to David Prerau, author of Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time, the U.S. adopted the conservation practice in 1918 to support World War I. But, it wasn’t formally and permanently established in the country until 1942.