How to Fall Back without Falling Apart


How to Fall Back without Falling Apart


By Brittney Stefanic

The end of daylight saving time is coming up on November 7, 2021 at 2:00 am. For most of us, this signals the true start of winter as the evening sunlight begins to fade earlier and earlier each night. The good news? With our “fall back” coming up, we will all gain an extra hour of sleep. YAHOO!

Things You Never Knew About Daylight Saving Time

  • Benjamin Franklin first jokingly suggested a similar concept in 1784 as a “money saver” for those wanting to save money by cutting back on the burning of candle wax at night for light
  • Official credit for the change actually goes to a late night bug catcher who wanted more sunlight in the summer nights for studying bugs
  • It was first rolled out in New Zealand in 1895 and then was pushed into law during World War II starting in Germany and then spreading across the world
  • If you really despise the change, you could move to Arizona as they do not start daylight saving time (by springing forward each spring) which means they also don’t fall back each fall

Within the sleep coaching industry there is an underwhelming amount of support for the fact that we still practice this time change. Like parents, we aren't huge fans of the turning on and turning off of daylight saving time. The original purpose of changing the clocks to allow for better use of daylight hours for field work + farming is becoming mostly obsolete because of modern-day technology. Plus, this one-hour change, can have a pretty significant impact on the sleep patterns of our families! 

It is not surprising that questions about the time change and how to handle fall back are already rolling in. Let's cut to the chase and share our top tips!

Making a proactive + gradual change for your early riser

If you want to be proactive OR you have a chronic early riser, you will be better off to make the change BEFORE Sunday, November 7th. The timing will depend on how many days ahead of time you want to start, but essentially, you will push nap time and bedtime a bit LATER each day so that you are one full hour later by Saturday night. Then, magically on Sunday, you'll be back on track. TADA!

If you want to start on Wednesday, November 3rd, move morning wake up, naptimes and bedtime 15 minutes later each day through Saturday. Ex: naptime at 12 becomes 12:15 on Wednesday, 12:30 on Thursday, 12:45 on Friday, 1:00 on Saturday and then “falls back” to 12:00 on Sunday!

If you want to start on Thursday, November 4th, move morning wake up, naptimes and bedtime 20 minutes later each day through Saturday. Ex: naptime at 12 becomes 12:20 on Thursday, 12:40 on Friday, 1:00 on Saturday and then “falls back” to 12:00 on Sunday!

If you want to start on Friday, November 5th, move morning wake up, naptimes and bedtime 30 minutes later each day through Saturday. Ex: naptime at 12 becomes 12:30 on Friday, 1:00 on Saturday and then “falls back” to 12:00 on Sunday!

The good news about starting before the time change is that you are making a more gradual adjustment for your little one. This is also important to do if your little one is currently rising early because we don’t want an early morning on Saturday to become even earlier on Sunday. Remember that when we “fall back”, a 6:00 am becomes 5:00 am – EEEEK!


Making the change starting on Sunday

If you aren't up for making schedule adjustments before you change the clocks, that's completely fine! Waiting until Sunday will be totally manageable for most families. If this is your preferred method, we recommend leaving the clocks alone on Sunday morning so it’s not as big of a deal to be getting up "earlier" than normal. 

Go ahead and get up at your usual time to start the day, and then wait a bit before looking at your phone or changing the clock on the microwave/oven/car. It will feel much better this way! Obviously, our phones and other devices will change automatically, but unless you have a place to be early Sunday morning, just leave those bad boys on the charger and wait until later to take a peek.

This way, after you’ve had a bit of breakfast, a nice warm cup of coffee and maybe even a Sunday morning dance party in your kitchen, you can move your clocks back and allow yourself to look at any devices that have automatically changed on their own. Now, it will be exciting that it’s only 8:00 and you’ve already had a great start to your day! There is something about gaining time on a Sunday morning that feel so nice and productive! 

Nap and bedtime: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

Let’s address the change in schedule for your little one. For the first 3 days of the change, we are splitting the difference here by asking them to adjust their schedule by 30 minutes rather than the full hour.

If your kiddo usually takes a morning nap around 9:30 adjust this to 9:00 for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. It will be a bit of a push (because it will feel like 10:00), but not so much that it will cause much damage to her schedule. 

Use this same strategy for the afternoon nap... If she normally naps at 2:00, her nap on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday should start at 1:30. 

We will do the same thing in the evening. For bedtime, if bed is typically at 7:00 put your little to bed at 6:30 for the first three days following the time change, just as we did with naps.

This same bedtime tip applies for children who are no longer napping and adults, too. Just move bedtime 30 minutes earlier for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to allow for a more gradual adjustment period.

The "new" normal... Wednesday and beyond

Please note that for all of these changes, the nap times and bedtimes will FEEL later for your kiddos (since we moved our clocks back). It takes roughly one week for our bodies to adjust to any kind of change in sleeping habits, and our kiddos are no exception.

Once the 3 days have passed with the 30 minute schedule adjustment, you will now be ready for the whole hour change, so you can put your child to nap and to bed at their normal time (before the clock change) starting with the first nap of the day on Wednesday. 

For the example above, naps would return to 9:30 and 2:00 and bedtime would resume at 7:00. Again, this will take a few days to feel routine, but by the weekend following the change, things should be feel back to normal.

Bonus tip: Get those rooms DARK!

When we fall back, our sunsets happen earlier and our sunrises do, too. The great news is that we no longer have to worry about putting the kids to bed when it is light out like we do during the summer months, but this makes early morning wake ups a bit more common because of sunlight exposure. Make sure all sleep sanctuaries are DARK DARK DARK to block out morning light.

If you are struggling with an early riser, the few days after the time change have the potential to be pretty brutal in your house because a 5 am wake up in late October becomes a 4 am wake up in early November. But don't worry... we've got you covered with this blog post all about early risers. 

"4 AM Isn't Morning" 

If you have a toddler, pre-schooler or school-age kiddo in your family, you may consider investing in an “okay to wake” clock. There are quite a few options on the so be sure you find one that fits the age and ability of your little one. Remind your tot that morning starts AFTER the clock is on! Then be prepared to celebrate loudly and reward them for staying put in their beds until that point!

Ask your sleep questions this week!

We will be doing a sleep question takeover on Thursday, November 11th for anyone who is needing support with the time change (or other sleep struggles)! Be sure to tune into Instagram @sleepbabyinc and join us in stories to get all your sleep questions answered.

Brittney Stefanic is a whole-family certified sleep consultant and founder of Sleeper Teachers®. She is an advocate for sleep education and believes in the power of rest so that families can live their best lives full of health and happiness. Brittney and her team love educating and support families around the world in finding sleep solutions through their customized sleep plans. You can follow the Sleeper Teachers® on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook @sleeperteachers for funny Reels, lots of blogs and frequent sleep Q&A sessions.