The Daylight Savings Time change in just mere days away arriving Sunday, March 13th. Yet, there is no need to fret as the Spring component is much less problematic than it’s Fall counterpart. Yes we do lose one hour of sleep that initial night, but we gain one glorious extra hour of sunlight in its place. What about our kids? Will they be thrown off? Maybe for a day or too, but most will not be phased and it may even help make your child’s sleep better!
How Do I Help My Child to Adjust?
Easy breezy…Older kids will naturally adjust on their own with you simply moving all the elements of their day to the new time along with their sleep times. For example, make sure that their daily cues – breakfast, lunch, dinner, bath, are all moved to the new clock times and their body will quickly follow suit for naptimes and bedtime too.
Take it slow…Younger children or those on several naps a day, may do better with making the change to the new clock time over several days. For this set, it may be more difficult to move all of their sleeping an entire hour earlier than their norm – so for them we split the difference and only move them 30 minutes earlier than they are used to the first couple of days. On Sunday, simply move their entire entire routine forward on the new clock by 30 minutes (which is really 30 minutes earlier than their usual schedule). For example: if your child normally naps at 9am, naps again at 1pm, and goes to bed at 7pm – the first two days after the time change their schedule would look like this: nap at 9:30am, nap again at 1:30pm, and bed at 7:30pm. Then on day three or four post time change you would move your child’s routine back to their old schedule moving them 30 minutes earlier – naps at 9am and 1pm and bed at 7pm which completes the total one hour move to their schedule (which again, is really 60 minutes earlier than their pre-time change schedule). Remember that things like meals, snacks, and bath act as “cues” telling your child’s brain that sleep is coming next. Moving these cues along with sleep times will help them to adjust more quickly.
Accelerate Their Body Clock
Our body clocks are set by cues from sunlight and darkness. If we can adjust our child’s light exposure, they will have an easier time adjusting. In the morning, open all curtains upon waking. Get out for some sunshine and fresh air in the early part of the day. If your snow has yet to melt, an activity in a sun filled room will work just as well. Then in the evening, dim the lights an hour before bedtime and close the shades. Slow activities down to prepare your child for sleep. Ensure that your child’s room is conducive to sleep and equipped with black out curtains or blinds, as the sun will now be shining well past bedtime.
The Time Change Will Improve My Child’s Sleep?
As we turn our clocks forward, we tell our bodies to wake at an earlier time and to go to sleep at an earlier time. So if your child’s waking time is too early, the change will naturally push it later without you doing a thing! Score. And if your child’s bedtime had crept too late, simply stick with the same “clock time” starting on the 8th and this will help bring it back to where it needs to be.
Again, this time change is generally much easier for our bodies to handle as we are doing everything on an earlier than we are used to and not pushing ourselves later as we do in the Fall. So don’t stress. Relax and enjoy your additional hour of sunshine!
Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2016
Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 5 year old Stella, their 3 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook too more great sleep tips!