Easing out of daylight saving time

As a child, I had an eccentric uncle who collected clocks. Every room had at least five or six, all ticking away. As you could imagine, the end of daylight saving time was an adventure. Uncle Mike would start adjusting their time one week in advance. Each day he’d change a handful of clocks, and leave the rest for the following day. It drove my poor aunt crazy. “For one week each year,” she’d say, “I have no idea what time it is.”

If you’re in the U.S., don’t let the change from daylight saving time (DST) this weekend stress you out (even if you collect clocks). With some careful preparation, you can get through it relatively unscathed.

Most people dislike the change to their sleeping habits that comes with the return to standard time. According to WebMD, it’s best to ease into it. Nicholas Rummo, MD, director of the Center for Sleep at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., recommends going to sleep a little bit earlier each night leading up to the changeover. For example, going to sleep 10 minutes earlier each night for six nights will help quite a bit.

This is especially helpful for the kids, who often struggle with the change. In fact, this is the same thing my wife and I do as we make the transition from summer vacation to the school year. It works pretty well.

WebMD also suggests exposing yourself to sunlight as early as you can. Have breakfast near a window or even walk outdoors for a bit, if you can. This will help reset your internal clock.

Back to the kids. The time change can be difficult for school-age children, and downright miserable for toddlers (and their parents). One thing you can do to ease the pain for everyone is stick to an established routine. Dr. Jodi Mindell, author of Sleeping Through the Night, believes this is the way to go. “You want to stick by the clock and stick to the bedtime rules,” she said. “Another piece that is key is wake them up at their normal times–don’t let them sleep later to ‘make up’ for lost sleep from the night before.”

But really, the best advice I can give here is be prepared. The kids are going to get less sleep then they’re used to, so try to be patient and prepared.

Besides sleeping changes, what else is there to do? First of all, confirm that your clocks — both electronic and analog — make the change. Some will do so automatically, like your cable box, computer, smartphone or tablet. Others will need a little help. I always forget about the clock in the car (as well as how to change it). Our microwave oven also spends a few days displaying the wrong time.

Also, this is a good time to make sure your home’s smoke detectors are working and replace batteries in your flashlights. The end of DST also marks the start of hurricane season here in New England, so I make a review of our storm food and related supplies each October/early November.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say, “Happy Halloween!”

23 Comments for “Easing out of daylight saving time”

  1. posted by Rae on

    I now live in Saskatchewan, Canada, and one of the nice perks of being here is that we never change our clocks! I will have to reconfirm the time difference with all my clients in different time zones, but that’s it. I am so glad that we’re going to continue to have daylight starting around 7:30 am all the way to about 6:30 pm, instead of it getting dark out by 5:00 pm.

  2. posted by Marrena on

    I think you need to delete this post and repost in the spring. You are confused, this is the easy switch back to standard time, when everyone gets to sleep in.

  3. posted by Rachel on

    I think Marrena is right. I’ve found that my daughter struggles immensely with the change in Spring, but the change in Fall helps right her schedule since we are regaining an hour.

  4. posted by Alix on

    Also, doesn’t the end of DST mark the END of hurricane season in NE?

  5. posted by Alison on

    Phew! I was hoping the posts would confirm that I’m not losing it!! Indeed, this is the time of year we “fall behind” and gain an hour. Great ideas though for when we have to “spring ahead”!

  6. posted by SteveC on

    Our biggest problem has been that, although we’re quite happy getting an extra hour in bed in the mornings, the cats haven’t changed their clocks so we are being woken anyway!

  7. posted by Pat Reble on

    We don’t have daylight saving in Western Australia because people complained that the extra hour of daylight faded their curtains…

  8. posted by Michelle on

    I agree with SteveC. Our pets have the most difficult time with time changes. And that leads to difficulties for the humans! I am not looking forward to Sunday morning when the puppy, who usually starts waking up around 5, is whining at 4 a.m. And the cat who will be walking on me to wake me up to fed him too.

    The spring forward is an easier adjustment in our family.

  9. posted by Kat on

    In the fall, the change is so much easier. When my body thinks it is normal wake-up time at 5:30 a.m., my clock tells my body NO! Go back to sleep for another hour! Best news I ever heard. I go to bed when my body feels like it’s 11:00, but the clocks say 10:00, so that gets me an earlier night, too.

  10. posted by Joy on

    When I read the first paragraph, I had to laugh 🙂 It reminded me of my grandparents’ house when I was a child. Pap collected cuckoo clocks – what a noise they made every hour, day & night! Thanks for the smile 🙂

  11. posted by Chamberlyn on

    Agree with previous posters that this should be for the spring. However, my toddler still has issues adjusting because he ends up waking up an hour earlier after the time change. To combat that in the fall, we progressively put him to bed LATER each night the week before, NOT earlier. Fix that in the original article and this will be a decent piece for the fall time change.

  12. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Alix — Nope. Fall and early winter are the worst for our neck of the woods. Hurricane Sandy hit a year ago this week. They can go through January.

  13. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Marrena — As a parent, the fall is harder for us. Trying to convince a 4yo that he has to go to bed an hour earlier is crazy difficult. I think maybe the first part of the quote applies to DST starting, but the rest of the text of the post is certainly about any type of change.

  14. posted by Rebecca on

    Erin, I think you need to take another look – the main points of this post are actually on how to deal with losing an hour of sleep, not with change in general. 😉

    “don’t let them sleep later to ‘make up’ for lost sleep from the night before.”

    “recommends going to sleep a little bit earlier each night leading up to the changeover. For example, going to sleep 10 minutes earlier each night for six nights will help quite a bit.”

    “The kids are going to get less sleep then they’re used to, so try to be patient and prepared.”

    These points are all good tips for the spring change, not the fall, when we (would like to) gain an hour of sleep. Even the WebMD article that is cited… is from March.

    Rewrite needed.

  15. posted by Anne on

    This article is crazy. Is it based on April Fool’s Day?!

  16. posted by NoAlias on

    When my kids were very young, I loved the end of DST. Little kids can’t tell time by a clock – they ‘tell’ time by the sun. When it’s dark, it’s bedtime. End of DST = it gets dark early = bedtime is early.

    My husband, on the other hand, absolutely hates the end of DST. He leaves for work at 4:45 AM and gets home 5:45 PM and doesn’t see the house in daylight until the weekends.

  17. posted by LibrLdy on

    I find both changes disruptive to my inner clock. I do the gentle adjustment for a couple weeks ahead of time (if I remember) and ease into it.

  18. posted by Pamela on

    @Erin: Hurricane season runs from June through the end of November, not January. By January, the NE should be worrying about blizzards, not hurricanes. 🙂

  19. posted by CanadianKate on

    One thing I discovered yesterday is that households that are not made up of solely adults need to take precautions.

    I dealt with a very cranky chair of the church board yesterday who just wanted to go home and nap and not handle the important issue at hand. The reason? She and her dh stayed up the ‘extra’ hour and watched a movie on Saturday but her toddler daughter got up by her body time, thus cheating the chair of an hour’s sleep.

    Others were complaining about having to get up ‘early’ because their pets demanded to be let out.

    Personally, by last night, I was exhausted by 9 (my regular bedtime is 10 and my body hadn’t yet moved to the new time.) Normally not a biggie, I’d split the difference and head to bed at 9:30, but I still had lots of important emails to write and needed that hour to do that. My mind had managed my time well, but my body was telling me otherwise.

  20. posted by Marrena on

    @Erin–I’m so confused. Why are you making a toddler go to bed an hour earlier when the clocks are being set back an hour?

  21. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Marrena — I think my mind is shot. Or my kid is weird. Probably best to ignore this crazy lady working on no sleep irrespective of the time 🙂

  22. posted by Marrena on

    I remember those days.

  23. posted by kit on

    I find any change in clock is best anticipated with a change in meal times. We are lucky here, as daylight savings time shifts (each way) have occurred during school holidays, so I devote a week to gradually making the shift (I shift the meals twice, in 30 minute increments, and do my best to shift bedtime by the same amount). It has been relatively painless this year.

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