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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 10/29/2009

An extra hour of sleep!... unless the kid spoils it

By Dan Stillman

* Clouds hang around: Full Forecast | Next week: Our Winter Outlook *

The weather forecast for Halloween night isn't yet set in stone. One thing's for sure though -- like it or not, daylight saving time will end at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. That means 2 a.m. becomes 1 a.m., which means I'll finally get back that hour of sleep I lost all the way back in March.

That is unless a certain lovable young child of mine decides to spoil my attempt at some extra shut-eye.

Just a hunch, but I'm guessing my wife and I aren't the only parents of young children who spend a significant portion of their waking hours obsessing over their child's sleep. Who can blame us? When the kid gets a good night's sleep, so do the parents. And that makes everyone happy, or at least less cranky.

Sleep has become so sacred since the arrival of my first child 23 months ago that even the prospect of a winter wonderland outside my window doesn't lure this snow lover out of bed as early as it used to (imagine my disappointment when all I see is bare ground).

That's why, for several weeks now, I've been quietly plotting how to manipulate my offspring's sleep so that he'll awake Sunday morning the same time as always -- 8 a.m., on the dot -- and not a second earlier. (Yes, I know, some parents would kill for their children to sleep 'til 8).

Our plan of attack went into effect earlier this week...

First, there was the mental mind-bender of figuring out whether adjusting for the end of daylight saving time means putting our precious one to bed earlier or later. Seriously, it's kind of confusing to think about (I'm a meteorologist not a math major). The answer, for those who'd rather not think too hard, is later.

For example, let's say your child is like mine and normally goes to bed at 9 p.m. and wakes at 8 a.m. If you put him or her to bed at the usual 9 p.m. this coming Saturday night and he or she sleeps the usual 11 hours, then the clock will read 7 a.m. when he or she wakes Sunday morning, since we'll have turned the clocks back an hour overnight.

And by his or her natural body clock, not to mention the influence of the earlier sunset Sunday evening (can you believe it's at 5:07 p.m.?), he or she would be ready for bed again at 7 p.m. Sunday night. Suddenly you have yourself an 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. sleeper instead of 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.

So, for a few nights already, we've been putting our little guy to sleep a little later each night, and trying not to go to him in the morning until the full 11 hours are up. We've also been pushing the afternoon nap later, and will start doing the same for meals as well. (Lots of moving parts to this sleep manipulation thing!)

So far, so good. Come Saturday night, hopefully we'll have stretched his bedtime close to 10 p.m. -- a little Halloween candy should be just the trick to keep him up late.

Of course, the true test doesn't come until Sunday morning, when Mommy and Daddy inevitably awake to the sweet voice of a little boy babbling through the baby monitor. God willing, the first digit I see on the clock as I open my eyes won't be anything lower than an 8.

How do you plan to transition your kids or yourself through the end of daylight saving time? Leave a comment below...

By Dan Stillman  | October 29, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
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The "spring ahead" switchover is coming far too early in the season for me. It should be delayed until the Saturday night following the vernal equinox at the earliest. The "fall back" switchover is too late and would be best done the Saturday night following the autumnal equinox.

Frankly I don't see how adding extra DST "conserves" energy. Many of us wake up early in the morning and use it because it's too dark. This November "fall-back" seems to be designed to give trick-or treaters an extra hour out on the street.

Speaking of trick-or-treat, I think the idea of going door-to-door is rather outmoded and hazardous. I don't plan on handing out candy to folks I don't really know. A far better option is to attend the organized trick-or-treat events at places such as Ballston Mall, or to attend other organized Halloween Parties.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | October 29, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Really, we don't need to read about the details of your parenting life. Newsflash-You are not the first person to have a child, nor are you the first person to have any of these cute little experiences. Save it for your Facebook.

Posted by: Tess6 | October 29, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

We have found that although it's counterintuitive the putting a child to bed later thing doesn't really work in getting them to sleep later in the morning.
As for time zone changes, I think it's hard for everyone to make adjustments. Good luck!

Posted by: soleil2000 | October 29, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

What does this have to do with weather? Just stick to what you do best please.

Posted by: Axel2 | October 29, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Good luck Sunday morning, Dan. In the past couple of years I had done the same thing as you (including the obsess about it part), but in spite of my best efforts, my kids' body clocks still had them wake up pretty much at the same usual time Sunday morning, irrespective of what the clock said. It's ironic that "fall back" is supposed to be "better" for us since we gain an extra hour of sleep, but I find that "spring forward" actually is easier once you have kids (since me waking them up is preferable to them waking me up, IMO). Either way, kids' sleep schedules get slightly disrupted and may take a few days to straighten out. On the bright side, it does get easier as the kids get older; 3 was the magic age for both of mine when 30 minutes less sleep here or there really became something I didn't need to worry about anymore.

Posted by: JenDC | October 29, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

At the risk of sounding TESSty ...

I very much enjoyed this article. It was a nice human-interest glimpse into the life of one of our CWG friends. I wasn't forced to read it at gunpoint -- I chose to. Good for me!

It's not as if it took the place of any other valuable (and, by the way, free) information we get from CWG every day.

More, please!

Posted by: joseph4 | October 29, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse


Thanks... yeah, we've found the same thing (going to bed later doesn't always equal waking up later). But are hoping the gradual approach might be effective.


Something to look forward to!


Thanks for the kind words.

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | October 29, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

In my perfect world, we would stay on fast (DST) time all year. The Canadian province of Saskatchewan does it. They are far enough north that in the winter it doesn't get light until after 9AM. Not a problem. Their kids still get to school, their cows still give milk, and everyone's internal clock isn't upset twice a year as it is everywhere else. And they have daylight when it is most needed--in the early evening.

Posted by: RAB2 | October 29, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I don't particularly like the dark mornings, but getting dark so early may be even more depressing. Yesterday, I think Doug Hill on wtop said the sunset will be at 5:04 next week.

Related to Halloween, I thought this balloon boy costume was kind of funny.

Posted by: spgass1 | October 29, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Dan, as you've heard, I'm a sensitive sleeper when it comes to sunlight. I have enjoyed the late sunrises the past few weeks, and am sort of dreading Sunday morning's earlier sunrise. I would much rather have later sunrises and later sunsets than the reverse...But, alas, I will change my clock dutifully on Saturday night.

Good luck with you and your little one's adjustment.

Posted by: Ann-CapitalWeatherGang | October 29, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

RAB2 - that's a great idea! I've often thought that might work - just stay on Daylight Time. The time changes screw me up worse and worse every year (as I get older!).

Dan - hope you have better luck with the kid than I will have with the dog. He somehow knows when 6am comes early in the Spring, but doesn't recognize the extra hour in the Fall....

Posted by: mmurphy70 | October 29, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

To the nay-sayers on this comments thread: this is a weather/time-related "human interest piece". It rounds out the hardcore weather forecasting and analysis information you usually get from CWG. I liked the piece, and really don't understand the angry words from some commenters. Like joseph4 said, no one was holding a gun to my head making me read it.

Posted by: wrytous | October 30, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

On Halloween night you will find
Reminders that time you rewind;
They've done it at Fox
Who set back their clocks
So far they're four decades behind.

News Short n' Sweet by JFD8

Posted by: jd121 | October 30, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

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