People in the United States will feel a bit more rested on November 5, as daylight saving time 2017 comes to an end. The clocks fall back at 1 a.m. local time that Sunday, ensuring another precious hour of sleep and a corresponding extra hour of daylight during common working hours.
You’ve probably heard that Ben Franklin kind of proposed daylight saving time (also erroneously called daylight savings time) centuries before it was implemented, and that the twice-yearly switch was initially adopted to save us money on energy needs.
But if you dig deeper, you’ll find out that the daylight-hoarding tradition has an even more colorful history, affecting international relations, creating nested time zones, and potentially influencing your health.
Here are a few of the lesser-known facts about daylight saving time.
Thrift Wasn’t the Only Reason for Saving Daylight
In 1895, George Hudson, an entomologist from New Zealand, came up with the modern concept of daylight saving time. He proposed a two-hour time shift so he’d have more after-work hours of sunshine to go bug hunting in the summer.
Seven years later, British builder William Willett (the great-great grandfather of Coldplay frontman Chris Martin) independently hit on the idea while out horseback riding. He proposed it to England’s Parliament as a way to prevent the nation from wasting daylight. His idea was championed by Winston Churchill and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—but was initially rejected by the British government. Willett kept arguing for the concept up until his death in 1915.
In 1916, two years into World War I, the German government started brainstorming ways to save energy. “They remembered Willett’s idea of moving the clock forward and thus having more daylight during working hours,” explains David Prerau, author of Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time. “While the British were talking about it year after year, the Germans decided to do it more or less by fiat.”
Soon, England and almost every other country that fought in World War I—including the United States—followed suit. In those days, coal power was king, so people really did save energy (and thus contribute to the war effort) by changing their clocks.
Read more at National Geographic.