• Sally Unterberger

Tips for Handling the Clock Change - Fall Back

Here it is Folks - My Tips for Dealing with the Dreaded Clock Change.

So it's nearly upon us - time to 'Fall Back' at the end of October just in time for Halloween... 

Most people do not mind it so much before having children when they gain that extra hour in bed, but as parents it can send fear through your bones when you hear that your babies usual wake up time of 6.30am is now going to be 5.30am on the clock!! Every year I get a TONNE of questions asking for the best way to handle the clock change and children’s sleep schedules.

If I had it my way, there would be no Daylight Savings Time at all. I think not only does it really affect children’s sleep patterns, but adults as well. In fact, statistically there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after the clocks change. It really does have an effect on all of us and it can increase our sleep debt — especially in children who tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. That is usually why people notice it the most in young children.

So what is the best way to handle it? My advice is to “split the difference.”

So if, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap round 9:30am, you will adjust this to 9:00am for the 3 days after the time change (this will feel like 10.00am to your child). It may take them a bit longer to fall asleep, but not so much that it will cause much damage to their schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap.

Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7pm, I recommend putting them to bed at 6:30pm for the first 3 days following the time change. (This will FEEL like 7:30pm to your child). On the 4th night, just get in line with the new time so that your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00pm, and adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well. It will take your baby at least a week to get used to this change.

For a very young child this half an hour difference may feel just too far to push them all in one go so the other option would be to get a head start and start a few days before the clock change using 15 min shifts for naps and bedtime every other day.

If you have children over the age of two you can use a sleep training clock, one of my favourite tools as anyone who has worked with me will know. I would just set the clock back half an hour so that at 7:30am, it reads 7:00am knowing that by the end of the week, they would be back on track and sleep until their normal wakeup time. Head over to my recommended products for links to my favourite sleep training clocks.

One final note - make sure your child’s bedroom is as dark as you can possibly make it with no cracks of daylight seeping in around the edges of the blind - why? for the next few weeks it is going to seem lighter in the morning again and the first cracks of daylight seeping into the room will cause your child's body to suppress the sleepy hormone melatonin and release the hormones cortisol and adrenalin to start waking the body up. If you choose to use a nightlight, a dim red/yellow toned light is best and you should avoid any blue/green toned light which mimics daylight and causes the body to suppress its release of melatonin.

Give it time and know that they will eventually get back on schedule within a week or so.

For help with this or any other aspect of your child’s sleep drop me an email on

Sweat Dreams x

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