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It’s time to adjust the clocks to ‘fall back’ and gain an hour

November 27, 2018

It’s not too late.

In fact, it’s an hour earlier than you thought if you forgot to turn back the clocks before hitting the sack last night.

Sunday at 2 a.m. is when we officially “fall back” and gained an hour of sleep.

The official twice-a-year adjustment to the clocks -- turn it forward an hour in the spring, move it back an hour in the fall -- dates back to March 19, 1918, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Calder Act that required Americans to set their clocks to standard time.

But less than two weeks later, on March 31, they were required to abandon standard time and turn the clocks ahead by an hour for the nation’s first experiment with daylight saving time.

Shifting clocks ahead an hour in the spring was touted by advocates -- including Pittsburgh factory owner and city councilman Robert Garland -- as a way to save electricity and wring more productivity or leisure out of the lengthening days.

The change was applied inconsistently at times -- mandated nationally as “war time” during the first and second World Wars, breaking down to a patchwork of state- and even town-level decisions from the late 1940s until the 1960s, then standardized across the country by federal law in 1966.

Since then, time zones and daylight saving time have been administered by the federal Department of Transportation, but the dates that we “fall back” and “spring forward” have crept over the years.

It used to start in April and end in October; during the energy crisis of the 1970s, the government experimented with moving ahead an hour for all of 1973.

Congress most recently extended it in 2007 so daylight saving runs from 2 a.m. the second Sunday in March to 2 a.m. the first Sunday in November. The time shift can fall anywhere from March 8 to March 13, and shifts back to “Standard Time” Nov. 1 through Nov. 7, depending on how the days fall on the calendar.

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