Daylight Savings Time: "Fall Back" Without Falling Off the Wagon

Daylight Saving Time ends in the fall each year, and although 2020 would be the perfect time to ditch this outdated practice, we still have to plan to turn back the clocks on Sunday November 1st.

While it’s nice to think about gaining an extra hour of sleep, as a parent you know that the one-hour change can have a pretty significant impact on the sleep patterns of your household. 

How you handle this shift depends on how proactive you want to be. If you have at least a few days before the change you can make a gradual shift, but if you’re reading this in a panic on Halloween eve, don’t stress! I’ve got you covered, too!

Option 1: Do a Gradual Shift

If you are Type A like I am, you might feel best if you prepare ahead of time. The exact timing will depend on how many days before you want to start, but essentially you will gradually push naps & bedtimes later each day so that you are a full hour later by bedtime on Saturday night. Then on Sunday, just like magic, you are back on track!

For example, if you wanted to start the push on Wednesday October 28th, you would shift everything by 15 minutes each day (for 4 days) and then Sunday hop back to your normal time.

Approaching the time change in this way can be a bit like solving a complex trigonometry equation, so if it feels too daunting, I actually find that the easiest (and less mentally taxing) way to approach “falling back” is to do nothing to prepare, and then split the difference once the time change happens.

Option 2: Split the Difference

If you’re taking a “split the difference” approach, my recommendation is to avoid looking at the clocks when you get up on Sunday so it’s not as big of a deal when your little one wakes up “earlier” than normal. Enjoy your coffee, maybe plan a fun breakfast, leave your phone on your nightstand, and go around changing the time after you’ve already gotten a head start for the day. It will feel much better this way!

When planning for naps & bedtimes, it’s going to feel like you’ve traveled to a different time zone: 9am feels like 10am, 7pm feels like 8pm, etc. In order to curb overtiredness (which babies & young children are especially sensitive to) you can “split the difference” for 3 days. This can help enormously because everyone’s body will be adjusting to a schedule that feels like only 30-minutes later vs. a full hour.

Days 1-3

If your little one usually takes a nap at 9:30am, plan to lay them down around 9:00am on Sunday. This will feel like 10:00am to their body so it may be a bit of a stretch but will be infinitely easier than if you tried to keep them up until 9:30am (which to them would feel like 10:30am.)

Use the same strategy for their afternoon nap(s): if your little one normally naps at 2:30pm, plan to have naptime at 2:00pm for a few days (which will feel like 3pm) as their body adjusts.

And of course, at bedtime we will follow exactly the same formula. If bedtime is typically at 7:30pm, you will plan to have your little one tucked in by 7:00pm (which will feel like 8pm) on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

By the way, the same strategy applies to toddlers on one nap as well as non-napping children (and even adults!) which will allow for a more gradual adjustment period for the whole family.

Day 4 & beyond

To get back on track, you’ll start with the first nap of the day on Wednesday and push it back to whatever time it was pre-time change. Naps & bedtime will return to the times they were prior to Sunday, and you won’t have to worry about messing with the clock again until Spring of 2021!

Pro Tips

One final thing to remember is that it takes the body about a week to adjust to changes in sleep schedules, so be patient with your little one (and yourself) as their body regulates! If you’re dealing with an early-morning riser as a result of the time change and you’re not about that 5am life, make sure to hold firm to expectations and keep things as dark as possible until your desired morning wake time. Light (even artificial sources) is very stimulating to the body and signals to the circadian rhythm that it’s morning time – not a message we want to be sending if our goal is a later sleep-in. 

As an Arizonian who doesn’t have to deal with DST twice a year, my heart is with you, mamas! And until the rest of the country catches up, I’ve got you covered.


Jamie Labbe

Jamie Labbe is a pediatric sleep specialist and owner of Oh Baby Consulting. She helps parents whose babies and toddlers are struggling with sleep find solutions that work for their family so that everyone can get the rest they need.

Her goal is to take the stress & overwhelm out of the whole “sleep thing” and give families the confidence and clarity to ditch the exhaustion and live their best, well-rested lives!


Note: Guest blog posts are shared for informational and educational purposes and may not reflect the official policy or position of SlumberPod (parent company, Dovetail Essentials, LLC), our employees and/or contractors. 

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