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Get ahead when we ‘fall back’ in November

'fall back' in NovemberWhen: November 7th

What: On Nov. 7, many Americans will move their clocks ahead to switch back to standard time, “gaining” an extra hour and marking the end of daylight saving time. Although most places lose the extra evening sunlight that daylight saving time creates, many people are happy to have that extra hour to sleep in that day. But that hour can also be used to do something that often gets pushed out due to a tight schedule, like spending quality time with family, getting some exercise, or working on a hobby. Use the hour we gain when we “fall back” to get ahead.

Background: During the 19th century, innovations like trains and the telegraph gave clocks a new importance. Time needed to be exact and standardized to avoid disruptions and miscommunications. While standardized time helped the newly modernizing world run more exact, many would sleep past sunrise during the summer and lose daylight for work and leisure. The loss of daylight became a major problem during World War I, and Germany and its allies implemented daylight saving time in 1916 as a way to help conserve coal. Other European countries quickly accepted the change as well, while the U.S. began using the system in 1918. Today, all states in the U.S. except Arizona and Hawaii switch to daylight saving in the spring and change back to standard time in the fall.

Story Pitch: Many groups and organizations can share ways to not waste the time we gain during the switch to standard time. Gyms and fitness centers can promote using the hour for exercise, and should also highlight the benefits of working out indoors as we lose daylight in the evening. Schools and learning organizations can ask parents to spend an extra hour of quality time with their children, and address how they can make time for their kids the rest of the year. Safety organizations can share how the change affects traffic patterns and how drivers and pedestrians can stay safe as gets darker earlier. Sleep research groups and companies selling sleep aids can talk about ways to sleep better, so people can feel well-rested even after their bodies adjust to the time change.

Story Hook: Most people welcome the switch to standard time because of the extra hour they can use for sleep. But the change has other effects on the body, and research has found that even heart attacks decrease right after the change over. As we go through the shift to standard time, how can people pay close attention to their bodies’ need for rest and sleep? What can people do if they’re having trouble sleeping well or getting enough sleep? Consider the following questions as you make your pitch:

  • Implementing daylight savings helped conserve resources during the World War I. What effects do time changes have on modern energy usage?
  • The extra hour we gain during the change is a good chance to take on the to-do list. How can people with the habit for procrastination make it easier to tackle everyday tasks?
  • Many fire safety groups encourage homeowners to check their smoke detectors twice a year when the clocks change. What other safety measures should people think about this time of year?
  • Does the earlier evening darkness that accompanies the change to standard time affect crime rates?
  • For frequent travelers and shift workers, the out-of-whack feeling that accompanies a time change comes more than twice a year. Is often changing your body’s internal clock dangerous? What are healthy ways to deal with disruptions to the circadian rhythm?

Tips: Provide a sleep expert who can talk about how changing the clock affects the body. A public safety official can also address safety concerns that come with the daylight changes. A person who utilizes the extra hour to his advantage would also make a good source.


American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety
(202) 638-5944

California Energy Commission Saving Time, Saving Energy

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
— Sleep and Sleep Disorders
(404) 693-3311

National Institute of Standards and Technology
Time and Frequency Division
(303) 497-3295

–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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