I Hate “Falling Back” For Daylight Savings Time,
And Here’s Why
Before I became a parent, I liked daylight saving time in the fall. It was a nice surprise to remember that I’d be getting an extra hour of sleep on the day that we “fall back.” I relished that feeling when I’d wake up, look at the clock, and realize I could stay cozy in my bed for another hour—or two or three, with no toddler yelling at me to come get him.
Now that I’m a mom, we can officially add daylight saving time to the list of things that my child has ruined for me, which also includes air travel, dining out, and having uninterrupted conversations. (Of course he’s worth it, light of my life, etc. etc.)
Now, when that dreaded day comes, I will wake up and curse the powers that invented daylight saving time, which I’m certain only exists to torture parents.
Because when I wake up, instead of 6:30 a.m., the clock will read 5:30 a.m. And instead of nestling deeper into the covers and going back to sleep, I will have to fetch my son with a smile on my face, even though no part of me wants to be awake at that ungodly hour.
This may sound dramatic, because technically I’m not losing any sleep. However, I think most parents will agree that mentally there is a vast chasm between a wake-up time with a “5” in front of it versus a “6.” 5 o’clock a.m. is soul-crushing. 6 o’clock a.m. is acceptable. 7 o’clock a.m. is winning the lottery. (And for me, 8 o’clock a.m. is alarming, since my son sleeping that late can only mean he is in need of a doctor.)
Young children, bless them, have no sense of time and do not care what the clock says.
All they know is they have slept their 10-12 hours (lucky jerks) and are ready to hit the ground running, clock be damned. They don’t care that the sun won’t be up for over two hours. They’ll be up and and asking you to push them in the backyard swing in the pitch black, because isn’t that what everyone wants to do at 6 a.m.?
I especially loathed daylight saving time in my son’s first year. Sleep was hard to come by, so once we finally established some semblance of a schedule we were desperate to preserve it. When daylight saving time came around, we were convinced everything would go to hell and we would never sleep again. My son’s almost two now, but I still stress out about the disruption to his schedule.
Here is where I have to ask: why do we do this to ourselves?
Well, to go back to the beginning, daylight saving time was first instituted in 1918 to conserve fuel during World War I. (It wasn’t to benefit farmers, as many people think.) But states and localities could decide whether to adopt it and when to shift, so it wasn’t until the Uniform Time Act of 1966 that the practice became standardized.
The history is kind of irrelevant, though, because it’s 100 years later and we’re still doing this stupid clock shift even though it has no proven benefits. Studies have shown it doesn’t save energy or fuel, and in fact may actually increase energy demand. And one study even found that when we spring ahead and lose an hour of sleep, the risk of having a heart attack the following Monday rises by 25 percent. Sleep deprivation, even a little bit, can be dangerous—as any parent will tell you.
It’s safe to say that I find nothing redeemable about daylight saving time. And if you ask me if I’m looking forward to getting an extra hour of sleep, be prepared for an earful. However, I realize we have bigger fish to fry in this country and daylight saving time probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so I’m going to have to deal. And you are too.
So here are some tips for getting through “falling back,” with help from my favorite sleep book, The Sleepeasy Solution:
- Put your child to bed at her normal bedtime the night we fall back. Don’t think you can trick her into sleeping later by putting her down later, this never works and all you will have done is short yourself an hour of Netflix and wine time.
- The next morning, get up when your child wakes up. (As if that is even an option.) Again, he has gotten his usual amount of sleep and will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to your horror. Maybe have your coffee ready to go, breakfast already made (overnight oats are a favorite), and a cartoon picked out so you can be as lazy as possible.
- If your child is still napping, try to keep her awake until her normal nap time even though she will probably be tired an hour earlier. Try not to let her nap crazy long, though, because then she may decide that she is rested enough to wake up at that soul-crushing 5 a.m. hour again.
- If your child doesn’t nap anymore, try to keep him up until his normal bedtime, by the new clock.