A geek’s guide to daylight saving time

The clock at Seattle’s Pike Place Market will have to be set manually after Sunday’s switch to daylight saving time. (Credit: Erik Stuhaug / Seattle.gov Imagebank)

The clock at Seattle’s Pike Place Market will have to be set manually after Sunday’s switch to daylight saving time. (Credit: Erik Stuhaug / Seattle.gov Imagebank)

Spring = forward. It’s a simple algorithm, but this weekend’s switch to daylight saving time can get complicated. The bottom line is that timepieces have to be pushed forward an hour in most (but not all) of North America.

Traditionally, clocks skip ahead an hour, from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. local time Sunday. Smartphones, computers and other connected devices should pick up the beat automatically. Old-school analog devices as well as standalone electronics such as microwave ovens will have to be set by hand, typically at bedtime on Saturday night.

But maybe there should be another way to think about all this, particularly because of 21st-century social trends.

Scientists say spring’s switch to daylight saving time is more of a strain today than it was a century ago, when it was instituted as a wartime energy-saving measure. Today, many of us lean toward going to bed later, and getting up later, too.

That’s because we receive more exposure to artificial light during the evening from technologies that include television and smartphones, according to Daniel McNally, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at UConn Health.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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