“Fall Back” Without Falling Behind on Sleep

by Dr. Nicky Cohen
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by: Dr. Pamela Mitelman

The end of daylight saving time is around the corner. The clock moves back 1 hour (and we gain 1 hour) on Sunday, November 3, 2019. As parents of young children, gaining anextra hour in the day takes on a new meaning. The child-less days of sleeping an extra hour maybe replaced by managing a tired child in a seemingly long day who is now waking earlier than usual. You may wonder if and how thistime change will impact your child’s and consequently, your sleep.


If your child’s typical wake time is 7:00am, after the time change this would be 6:00am

(according to the new clock).


Below are some guidelines to ease you through this time and to help your child adjust to the

time change. Firstly, breathe easy because, for most children, the adjustment period typically

lasts no longer than two to three days.


For babies and toddlers:


  • Facilitate bedtime by adjusting their naptime:


For young children who are still napping, stretch your child as far as you can toward his normal

first nap time (according to the new clock). So, even if your child is awake longer than usual and

he wants to nap earlier, do what you can to keep him awake and occupied!


Do your best to keep him up until his first regular nap time according to the new clock and then do the same thing for subsequent naps and his bedtime. By getting him to nap at his regular time(s) (according to the new clock) you will help him achieve his regular bedtime without becoming too overtired (i.e., if regular bedtime is 7:30pm, aim for 7:30pm the first night of the time change because naps have been adjusted). By going to bed at his usual time, he is less likely to wake early.


For preschoolers and children:


If your child is no longer napping, she may have a longer day ahead of her, given that her day

may have started an hour earlier the day of the time change. Be sure to spend her day doing

her regular activities and eating her meals, at her usual times (according to the new clock).


  • Prepare your child by adjusting her bedtime:


The nightbefore the time change put your child to sleep at night a little later in hopes of her waking up later than usual (based on a 7:30pm bedtime, bedtime would be moved later by 15-30 minutes to 7:45-8:00pm). On the night of the time change and for the next couple of nights adjust bedtime earlier working towards regular bedtime. For example, if your child’s usual bedtime is 7:30pm, start with a 7:00pm bedtime (8:00pm to the child) and gradually increase to 7:30pm over next few nights (increments of 10 minutes are recommended). Initially, she may be overtired and irritable in the late afternoon but, after a few days, with her morning wake time slowly moving later, she will adjust.


As it begins to get light outside about 1 hour earlier after the time change, to help you and your child sleep later following the time change, ensure that your child’s room is very dark (use room darkening shades if needed). Otherwise, you may find your child continuing to wake early in response to morning light. With patience and consistency this fall time change will soon be a distant memory.


Pleasant Dreams!


Dr. Pamela Mitelman is a Montreal based Licensed Clinical Psychologist working in private

practice. She received her Psy.D. from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in

Chicago. Her interest in pediatric sleep disturbances was peeked while assessing children for

learning difficulties and was further solidified after having children of her own. Dr. Mitelman is

passionate about educating families on the importance of healthy sleep practices. More

information about Dr. Mitelman can be found at


Dr. Nicky Cohen is a Registered Psychologist in private practice in Toronto. She received her

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from York University and developed an interest in parenting issues

related to children’s sleep disturbances after having her first child. She is active in the

community disseminating information on healthy sleep practices and increasing awareness of

the importance of making sufficient sleep a family priority. More information about Dr. Cohen’s

work can be found at


Nov 3, 2019 – Daylight Saving Time Ends

When local daylight time is about to reach
Sunday, November 3, 2019, 2:00:00 am clocks are turned backward 1 hour to
Sunday, November 3, 2019, 1:00:00 am local standard time instead.

Sunrise and sunset will be about 1 hour earlier on Nov 3, 2019 than the day before. There will be more light in the morning.

Also called Fall Back and Winter Time.


For more information on establishing healthy sleep habits in young children see:

Dr. Pamela Mitelman

Dr. Nicky Cohen

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