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FAQs: How Does Daylight Savings work? Do We Gain or Lose and Hour?

With daylight saving time approaching, you might find yourself wondering “do we gain or lose an hour?“. If you ever get confused around this time of the year, don’t worry you’re not alone!

Below we will explain how daylight savings works, provide a little bit of the history of daylight savings time, and answer all your frequently asked questions.

We will let you know not only when to change the clocks, but also the answer to the most important question: “do we lose an hour of sleep?”.

Let’s jump right in and learn how daylight saving time works, why it exists, and how it came to be.

A smiling red alarm clock with a text overlay posing questions about daylight savings like "do we gain or lose an hour" and "how does daylight savings work?".

How does daylight savings work?

It’s important to note that less than half of the world observes daylight saving time. Some countries have never observed daylight savings time, and some observed it in the past, but no longer do.

To observe daylight savings, we change the clock twice a year, to maximize the hours of daylight. One change happens in the spring, and the other change happens in the fall.

While it’s true that every country which observes daylight saving time changes their clock twice a year, the dates and times of the change vary by country.

When does the time change?

The following answer is for the United States, because other countries change their clocks at different times.

A black clock on a lavender colored wall, with a hand reaching up to change to time for daylight saving time.

The first time change happens when daylight saving time begins, on the 2nd Sunday in March. The second time change happens when daylight saving times ends, on the 1st Sunday in November.

The time changes at 2:00am on Sunday morning, so if you have clocks you need to adjust, it is recommended to do it before you go to bed on Saturday night.

Do we gain or lose an hour?

This question could mean two things: “do we gain or lose an hour of sleep?” or “do we gain or lose an hour of daylight?”. Don’t worry, we will take all the confusion out of it, and answer below.

A person sleeping in a bed with a blindfold, with an alarm clock at 2am for daylight saving time in the foreground of the photo.

In the spring, on the 2nd Sunday in March, when daylight savings time begins we will lose an hour of sleep, but we will gain an hour of daylight.

In the fall, on the 1st Sunday in November, when daylight saving time ends we will gain an hour of sleep, but we will lose an hour of daylight.

Daylight saving time FAQs:

Here at Always the Holidays, we hope to clear up some of the confusion surrounding daylight savings time. Here are some of your most frequently asked questions and answers.

An illustration of a lightbulb with the words "daylight saving" inside the bulb in calligraphy lettering.

Do you have a question we missed? Leave a comment down below and we will do our best to answer it and add it to our FAQ list to help everyone understand daylight savings better!

Do iPhones automatically change for daylight savings?

Yes, iPhones can automatically change for daylight savings! This will happen as long as your phone is set to change time automatically.

We recommend checking in your settings to make sure your phone settings are enabled to automatically change during daylight saving time.

A woman with red painted nails holding an iPhone getting ready to turn it on.

First, open your settings and click on “General”. Then click on “Date & Time”. You’ll see a toggle button next to “Set Automatically”.

As long as your this button is toggled to the right hand side, your iPhone will automatically adjust for Daylight saving time.

When do we change the clocks?

There are two times during the year where you will need to change the clocks. The following answer is for the United States, because other countries change their clocks at different times.

The first time you will need to change the clock is when daylight saving time begins on the 2nd Sunday in March.

The words "change your clocks" on a teal background with the letter "o" being a cartoon clock.

The second time you will need to change the clock is when daylight savings time ends on the 1st Sunday in November.

The time changes at 2:00am on Sunday morning, so if you have clocks you need to adjust it is recommended to do it before you go to bed on Saturday night.

When do we set the clocks forward?

We set our clocks forward one hour at 2:00am on the second Sunday in March. If you need to manually set your clocks forward, we recommend doing this on Saturday night before you go to bed.

You can remember when we need to set the clocks forward by the saying “spring forward, fall back”.

When do we set the clocks back?

We set our clocks back one hour at 2:00am on the first Sunday in November. If you need to manually set your clocks back, we recommend doing this on Saturday night before you go to sleep.

An orange cartoon alarm clock changing to daylight saving time, next to pumpkins with the words "fall back set your clocks back an hour" beneath it.

You can remember when we need to set the clocks back by the saying “fall back, spring forward”.

Do we lose an hour of sleep?

When talking about daylight savings time, this seems to be one the most popular questions. Everyone wants to know if we will lose an hour of sleep!

In the spring, on the 2nd Sunday in March, when daylight saving time begins we will lose an hour of sleep. Since the clocks “spring forward” it means that at 2:00am the clocks will change to 3:00am.

Let’s put this into practice and think about it in terms of when you need to wake up. If you need to wake up at 7:00am for work, the time that has been feeling like 7:00am will now be 8:00am, so you will lose an hour of sleep when your alarm goes off at 7:00am.

Do we gain an hour of sleep?

There’s no surprise this is one of the most frequently asked daylight savings questions. Everyone wants to know if we will gain an hour of sleep!

Ten different cartoon images of people sleeping, some are alone, some are with pets, and some are with partners.

In the fall, on the 1st Sunday in November, when daylight saving time ends we will gain an hour of sleep. Since the clocks are “falling back” it means that at 2:00am the clocks will change to 1:00am.

Let’s put this into practice and think about it in terms of when you need to wake up. If you need to wake up at 7:00am for work, the time that has been feeling like 7:00am will now be 6:00am, so you have an extra hour to sleep before your alarm goes off at 7:00am.

When is daylight savings time and what is standard time?

The year is divided into two periods of time: daylight saving time (8 months long) and standard time (4 months long).

A yellow clock surrounded by sunflowers and leaves with text under it that reads "daylight saving time".

Daylight savings time is from the 2nd Sunday in March, until the 1st Sunday in November. During this eight month period we “save daylight” by having days with more waking hours in sunlight.

The four month period during the year when daylight saving time is not in use is called standard time.

Standard time begins on the 1st Sunday in November until the 2nd Sunday in March. This four month period returns to the standard of having shorter waking hours in daylight. 

Is daylight savings time grammatically correct?

Contrary to popular belief, daylight savings time is not grammatically correct. There is no “s” on the end of “saving” in daylight saving time.

An alarm clock on a wooden table with scrabble tiles reading "daylight saving time" next to it.

While daylight savings time may not be grammatically correct, the term daylight savings time is still widely accepted. 

Also, on a related note, daylight saving time is also not capitalized, unless abbreviated. If used as an abbreviation, DST is capitalized.

What do “spring forward, fall back” and “fall back, spring forward” mean?

Both “spring forward, fall back” and “fall back, spring forward” are memory devices called mnemonics. Mnemonics, named after the Greek goddess of memory Mnemosyne, are phrases we use to help us remember things easily.

In these case, the mnemonics help us remember when the time changes. In the fall, our clocks move backwards, essentially “falling back”. In the spring, our clocks move forward, essentially “springing forward”.

Two clocks with the hands at 2am, with the words spring forward fall back next to them, for daylight savings.

You probably use lots of mnemonics without even thinking about it! The colors of the rainbow can easily be remembered by the mnemonic Roy G. Biv (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).

In math class, you might have been taught to remember the order of operations by the mnemonic “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” (parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction).

If you’re a musician, you may have been taught to read sheet music with the mnemonic “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This reminds us that the lines of the treble clef, in order are EGBDF. 

When you’re trying to remember the directions on a compass, there are plenty of mnemonics for that! North, East, South and West quickly turn into “Never Eat Soggy Worms”, “Never Eat Shredded Wheat”  and Never Eat Soggy Waffles“.

Who invented daylight saving time?

If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie National Treasure, (affiliate link) you might remember the line where they say that Benjamin Franklin invented daylight saving time. This is not 100% accurate, but it does have elements of truth to it.

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote a satirical letter called “An Economical Project” to the editor of The Journal of Paris. He suggested tongue-in-cheek ways Parisians could wake up earlier, to maximize the daylight, and cut back on the use of candle wax.

A cartoon woman changing the time on a larger than life alarm clock, to advertise changing the clock for daylight saving time.

A serious daylight saving plan wasn’t suggested until 1895 when New Zealand entomologist George Hudson proposed a two hour shift so he had more daylight to study insects.

In 1907, British builder William Willett suggested advancing the clocks by 20 minutes every Sunday in April, and reversing them by 20 minutes every Sunday in September, for a total shift of 80 minutes.

Willett proposed this time change to conserve energy, and thought a gradual shift would be less disruptive to our biological clocks. He mentioned that livestock would also be less disrupted by a gradual time change.

Even with all of these suggestions, daylight saving time wasn’t widely implemented until World War I, as a way to conserve coal. So it could be said that all three men influenced the actualization of daylight savings time.

What is the history of daylight savings time?

In 1908 the first city to observe daylight saving time was Port Arthur in Ontario, Canada. While Port Arthur was the first city to observe DST, the the first country to adopt daylight savings time nationwide was Germany.

Three time pieces, a sun dial, an hourglass, and an alarm clock highlighting the evolution of time, and the history of daylight savings time.

Germany began observing daylight saving time in 1916, during World War I. They did so in order to conserve coal during the war.

The United States didn’t begin observing daylight savings time until 1918. The early years of daylight savings in the US were inconsistent. It wasn’t until the Uniform Time Act was passed in 1966 that there was more uniformity to when and where daylight saving time was observed in the United States.

What is the reason for daylight savings time?

Daylight savings time was created to conserve energy, saving money and resources. The concept was that if the daylight hours were longer, less methods of artificial lighting would be needed, since the hours of darkness would be shorter.

A yellow lightbulb with an image of the earth as a clock inside it, on a purple background, with the words "daylight saving" to the right of it.

There is debate to if, in our modern world, daylight saving time conserves energy in the same way it once did, especially with the advances in modern energy-consuming devices like televisions, computers and cell phones.

Even thought it stays light later, and reduces the necessity for as much electric lighting, having brighter days might encourage more frequent use of air conditioners. 

What businesses benefit from daylight savings time?

In an NPR interview, Michael Downing author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time” (affiliate link), discusses the reasons daylight saving time is financially beneficial for some businesses.

Downing mentions that industries like retail and petroleum have seen an increase in revenue during daylight savings time.

Even the candy industry favors daylight savings. Candy makers thought that having more daylight hours for kids to go trick or treating during Halloween would boost candy sales.

A plastic jack-o-lantern bucket with candy spilling out of it, and two plastic skeleton hands on it.

For years, candy makers lobbied to have daylight saving time extended to include Halloween. When the Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended daylight saving time beginning in 2007, the candy makers got their wish, as Halloween was included in the DST extension.

However, not all businesses benefit from daylight saving time. Farmers have opposed daylight savings time from its inception. 

What are the states without daylight savings?

Of the the 50 states, only Hawaii and Arizona do not participate in daylight savings, with a caveat to Arizona.

The majority of the state of Arizona does not observe daylight savings time. However, the northeastern part of the state is in the Navajo Nation which does observe daylight saving time. 

A map of all 50 of the United States, in the colors yellow, pink, dark blue, and light blue, with each state name written on the states in white.

The Navajo Nation surrounds two areas of the Hopi Reservation, which (like the majority of Arizona) do not observe daylight saving time.

If you were traveling from one side of Arizona to the other, it is possible you could take a route that involves seven time changes.

This is a little easier to see visually. You can see a map of the Hopi Reservation here, and a map of the area of the Navajo Nation here (with the Hopi Reservation outlined).

In addition to the two states that don’t observe daylight savings time, there are also several US territories that don’t observe daylight savings time like Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Do we lose or gain an hour?

This question could mean two things “do we lose or gain an hour of sleep?” or “do we lose or gain an hour of daylight?”. Don’t worry, we will take all the confusion out of it, and answer below.

A woman stretching in front of a window with the curtains drawn, with an alarm clock reading 7am in the foreground of the photo.

In the spring, on the 2nd Sunday in March, when daylight saving time begins we will lose an hour of sleep, but we will gain an hour of daylight.

In the fall, on the 1st Sunday in November, when daylight saving time ends we will gain an hour of sleep, but we will lose an hour of daylight.

Facts about daylight savings time

Add to your knowledge of DST time by checking out these facts about daylight savings time below. Some may surprise you!

Two daylight saving time clocks set to 2am, the one on the left is in blue and has the words "winter time" beside it while the one on the right is in orange and has the words "summer time" next to it.

  • While the time change in the United States is called daylight saving time, other places refer to it as summer time. In the UK it is called British Summer Time (BST).
  • Less than half of the world observes daylight saving time/summer time.
  • Changing the clocks during daylight saving time results in one 23 hour day in March (the first day of daylight savings), and one 25 hour day in November (the last day of daylight savings).
  • It is possible to drive across Arizona and encounter seven time changes, because some areas of Arizona observe daylight savings time, and other areas do not.
  • One of the early advocates of daylight savings time was an entomologist. He wanted more daylight hours to study bugs!
  • The saying “fall back, spring forward” is a memory device called a mnemonic used to help us remember when to change the clocks for daylight savings time. 
  • Have you ever heard “change your clocks, change your batteries”? It is recommended that when you change your clocks you also check your smoke detector batteries and change them if necessary. 


 

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An alarm clock in two seasons, the left has a wintery background, and the right half has a springtime background, with a text overlay on the image about daylight saving time questions, like "do we gain or lose an hour" and "how does daylight savings work?".

Jess author photoAbout the author

Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.

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