It’s almost sleep-in Sunday: Everything you could possibly want to know about daylight saving

How do you even work? Photo: Getty

How do you even work? Photo: Getty Photo: Getty

Daylight saving is easier for Americans. They call autumn “fall”.

So re-setting the clocks is a piece of cake: Spring forward and fall back, they remind themselves twice a year.

Daylight saving officially ends for Australia’s southern states at 3am on April 7 – the first Sunday of April – offering an extra hour under the covers.

Those awake in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory at that ungodly hour should turn their clocks back an hour, but everyone else can rest easy, literally, if they make the adjustment before the sandman does his thing and sends them off to the land of nod.

We won’t have to fiddle with our clocks again until the first Sunday in October.

The time adjustment hasn’t always been around, nor has April’s first Sunday been one of the year’s two key dates. Daylight saving in Victoria once finished on the last Sunday of March, ending dark mornings a week sooner.

In 2000, that date was changed to bring Victoria into line with New South Wales during the Sydney Olympic Games.

Still, some folks continue to have questions about seasonal time adjustments, so we’ll try to answer them.


Daylight saving is ending in NSW, meaning brighter mornings. Photo: Getty

Which states and territories recognise daylight saving?

NSW, the ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania are willing bi-annual clock-tamperers.

But Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia have all rejected the idea. Queensland did trial daylight saving time in the 1970s, and again for another three years after 1989, but ultimately rejected daylight saving at a state referendum.

Western Australia has tried daylight saving and has held four – yes, four – referendums on the issue, the most recent in 2009.

Do I need to change my phone settings?

The term ‘winding back the clock’ has become antiquated in a world of smartphones and computers that adjust themselves without the assistance of our nimble fingers.

However, wristwatch wearers, analogue clock owners and the majority of car dashboard clocks will be an hour out of time without manual ‘winding back’.

Where did daylight saving time originate?

US founding father Benjamin Franklin is credited with the idea of setting clocks forward an hour in the spring and back in the autumn in an essay titled, An Economical Project of Diminishing the Cost of Light in 1778.

Franklin had another motive as well. America’s expanding western frontier saw different towns in the same states operating on different schedules, all determined by the local time of sunrise.  The coming of the railways made it imperative for times to be standardised. Collisions involving trains operating according to different time settings and schedules can be awfully messy.

It took a while, but the idea was adopted in Britain in 1916, the same year the Americans finally embraced Ben Franklin’s long-stalled innovation. With World War One raging it seemed a good idea to cut civilian electricity use and get workers to their munitions factories at first light.

Perhaps worried that workers would spend their extra hours in their favourite pubs, drinking hours were also drastically restricted.

Win some, lose some, as they say.

Benjamin Franklin is credited as the first to advocate daylight saving time. Photo: Getty

Daylight saving has been a feature of Australian life since 1971, but its practice is hotly contested.

The arguments ‘for’ are fairly simple: daylight saving time offers extra sunlight at the end of the day.

The ‘against’ arguments are slightly more varied, with daylight saving dissidents arguing the practice creates a hotchpotch of times zones across Australia.

Parents grumble about how hard it can be to put kids to sleep with the sun still up. Dairy farmers gripe that cows don’t wear watches, meaning they get udderly sick and tired of doing the milking at an odd hour.

Some also argue daylight saving time is irrelevant in our modern age, when Australians are working longer hours and enjoying less ‘leisure time’, regardless of where the little is pointing.

Is it daylight saving or daylight savings?

Just as some people create unnecessary plurals, such as ‘The Facebooks’, the proper term is Daylight Saving Time or DST, not Daylight Saving’s’ Time.

Does daylight saving time adversely affect our health?

While modern technology generally takes care of such gear, biological clocks often need some time for readjustment.


Some of us have to take a few days to adjust to daylight saving time. Photo: Getty

Victoria University Professor Emeritus of Psychology Dorothy Bruck told The New Daily some people were more susceptible to daylight saving time than others purely based on their genetic disposition.

“For some people daylight saving doesn’t have an effect, while for some it may take a few days to readjust,” she said.

One US study found the risk of heart attack decreased by 21 per cent when the clocks returned to standard time.

Meanwhile, another US study found fatal accidents increased after shifts to and from daylight saving. Sleep deprivation or behaviour changes, such as a long night out, were considered some of the contributing factors.

So, wind or don’t wind back your clocks, but do try to enjoy that extra hour of shut-eye.

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