Daylight Saving Time is almost there and when it’s time to “spring forward” parents can be a bit afraid of what’s coming, because being adjusted to “missing an hour’’ does not always happen immediately.
Most children tend to be quite structured in their sleep and wake-up times and will do this every day at the same time. They have a strong biological clock, so an hour difference will probably mix up this clock a little.
However, there are some options you might consider to help make the transition to the new time go a little smoother.
Option 1: Go with the flow.
Just start the day as you normally would, if you don’t have to set an alarm your day starts an hour later and you just see how things go. Naps might shift a little later just as bedtime. It can be hard to wake-up on Monday but an early bedtime that day will help recover.
Doing nothing might be a (temporary) solution for early risers. If they normally wake up at 5:30 they now will wake-up at 6:30. As long as you plan all naps and dinners an hour later (plus bedtime) you can keep the new wake-up time. But I say temporary because early rising often has some underlying causes you have to tackle. But if it works for now, just go with it.
Option 2: Prepare, the gradual approach.
The gradual approach is perfect if you are a planner and/or have a child who is very sensitive to change.
With this method, you start a few days before DST, let say Wednesday or Thursday. You would wake your child up approximately 15-20 minutes earlier than usual (so 6:45 am instead of the regular 7 am) and move naps, meals, and bedtime up by around 15 minutes as well. Then each day that week, you aim to wake your child up an additional 15 minutes earlier and keep moving bedtime earlier. Come Sunday morning, your little one be waking up around the pre-DST time they used to wake-up!
Option 3: Adjust at the same day approach.
If you have the time, “Sleep in” with 30 minutes on Sunday. It’s not actually sleeping in because you still have 30 minutes less sleep, but to have the alarm at 7:30 instead of 7 is a good start of the day. Don’t forget to put your toddler clock 30 minutes later the day before! The best thing to do is to keep the 30-minutes-later-schedule for at least 1 day, so if your child normally naps at 10, he now naps at 10:30 am that Sunday.
If you’re not on a tight schedule the next Monday it’s nice o keep the 30-minutes-later-schedule for a day of 2 more, but not everybody has the luxury. Then you just start at normal times you will notice their getting back to their original schedule in a few days! Keep in mind that your child might not be very tired at bedtime and not that easy to wake in the morning. So be gentle and a bit flexible.
Helping your child adjust.
Despite all preparations, it’s normal that your child feels a little of of sorts, so to help him get adjusted quicker I got some more tips:
Make sure they get plenty of playtime outside in the morning, as this will help set your child’s biological clock. Try to expose your child to natural sunlight first thing in the morning because it will allow them to produce higher levels of melatonin when it’s time to sleep!
Darken the room
Another tip that is helpful is to darken your child’s room. Your child may wake up too early with the sun rising so early now in the morning and may struggle to fall asleep while it is still light outside so darkening the room can be very helpful.
Special Note: It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, this is normal, since the time is different initially they won’t be as tired.
It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time, some children it can take up to a month.
Be patient and consistent, it will happen.
If Daylight Savings is the least of your little ones sleep struggles. Please don’t hesitate contact me via email@example.com, let’s chat about whats happening. Let’s get your little one and your whole family sleeping better!