Daylight Savings – Spring Forward – and Your Child’s Sleep
Daylight Savings Time (DST) can be a difficult adjustment for anyone, but especially for parents with young children. The spring and fall time changes can disrupt your child’s sleep schedule, making it difficult for them to get the rest they need. Here are some tips to help make the transition a little easier:
Start preparing your child for the time change a few days before it happens. Gradually adjust their bedtime and wake-up time by 15-30 minutes each day until they are on the new schedule. This will help their body adjust more smoothly to the change.
Stick to a routine
Children thrive on routine, so try to keep their daily schedule as consistent as possible. This includes meal times, nap times, and bedtime routines. This will help signal to their body that it’s time to sleep, even if it’s still light outside.
Create a sleep-conducive environment
Make sure your child’s sleep environment is conducive to sleep. This means keeping the room dark and cool, using white noise or a sound machine to block out any outside noise, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine. This will help signal to your child’s body that it’s time to sleep, no matter what time it is outside.
Remember that it may take a few days for your child’s body to adjust to the new time, so be patient and consistent with your routine. With a little bit of effort, you can help your child transition smoothly to the new time and get the sleep they need.
Our phased approach to the time change
To help adjust to daylight saving time, you can start on Saturday to give a little more transition time before Monday, especially for children who go to school or daycare. Wake the kids about 15-30 minutes earlier than their normal wake-up time. This will start the day off by moving everything up by that amount, with the goal of getting your child to bed 30 minutes earlier.
On Sunday, the sun will rise an hour earlier than what we are used to. If you haven’t blacked out the room, the light could wake the kids earlier than usual. This isn’t necessarily bad because of the hour loss that we need to absorb, but you could be dealing with crankiness all day.
On Sunday, you can let your child sleep in, but it’s best to only do it for about 30 minutes (which is actually 30 minutes earlier than they would usually wake). While this won’t complete the adjustment, it will lessen the effects of sleep deprivation. If you don’t start implementing the time change early and choose to let your child sleep until their usual wake-up time on Sunday (which was 7am), they will now wake up at 8am (at least for the first day).
If your child usually takes a morning nap around 10:00am, adjust it to 10:30 for the first three days after the time change. This may be a bit earlier than your child’s normal nap time, but it won’t cause much damage to their schedule. Do the same for all other naps. For example, if your child usually goes to bed at 7pm, after the time change, put them to bed at 7:30pm for the first three days. This will feel like 6:30pm to your child. On the fourth night, get in line with the new time, so your child goes to bed when the clock says 7pm. Adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.
It’s important to note that if your child is sensitive to changes in their bedtime or nap times, you should split the difference in quarters instead of halves. Instead of adjusting their schedule 30 minutes later to start with, begin with a 15-minute time jump. If you think your child can handle the full-time change at once, be conscious of the hour they’re going to bed. With “springing forward,” you don’t have to worry about your child being overtired at bedtime, but you still need to watch how early you put them to bed so that they don’t stall, cry, or play around too much at bedtime because they’re just not ready to sleep an hour earlier than normal.
The best part of springing forward is that if you normally have an early riser, you will now gain an hour in the morning! Early morning wake-ups should not be an issue, but if they are, make sure your child is still sleeping the same amount of hours overnight as they were before the change. This might mean that you need to adjust bedtime for a while until your child’s morning wake time goes back to normal. Give it time, and know that your child will get back on schedule within a week, possibly two.
Daylight Savings Time can be a difficult adjustment for both parents and children, but with a little bit of effort, you can help your child transition smoothly to the new time. By starting early, sticking to a routine, and creating a sleep-conducive environment, and attempting a phased approach, you can help your child get the sleep they need to thrive. And remember, a consistent sleep schedule has many benefits for your child’s overall health and well-being. Happy sleeping!
If you find your child’s sleep issues are fixed by this, set up a call, we would love to chat about your specific issue.