Springing Forward: Daylight Saving Sleep Tips




One great thing...this Daylight time change is the easier of the two!!!


For parents wanting an earlier bedtime for their child, this is the perfect time to do so. An earlier bedtime is better than a later one to prevent your child from becoming overtired and struggling to go to sleep. The "early risers" (waking between 5 -6 am) will now be waking at a somewhat more desirable time with the time change.  Sleep is regulated by our circadian rhythm (or body clock), which is regulated by darkness and light. Sometimes the one hour change can play havoc on your child's bedtime because their circadian rhythms are being challenged with it being lighter outside when it is time for bed.  

 

You will want to make sure your child's bedroom in conducive to sleep- using black out curtains or blinds to block out the bright sunshine, using a sound machine to drown out early morning noises and for the toddlers, a wake-up clock.  If your older child uses a wake-up clock , you can set the new time an hour later with the plan that  they will stay in their room until the clock turns green. Make sure that you set the expectations accordingly, since these tools will only work if you are consistent.


There are a couple of avenues you can take (depending on your child's sensitivity to change) so let's explore those avenues!

1st Avenue: Slow Transition. This avenue will help the time sensitive child gradually adjust to the new time change.  By starting a few days before the time change actually occurs, you can limit the impact the hour is going to have on your child.  If your child's normal wake time for the day is 7:00 am, change it to 6:45 am on the first day. Slowly increase the wake time by using 15 minute intervals until you have reached the desired time. By doing this BEFORE the time change occurs, your child will be already used to the new timing with little disruption.  Ideally, you want to shift your child’s entire daytime schedule by 15 minutes.


2nd Avenue: Do Nothing. This avenue would be for a child that is not time sensitive and is able to handle the time change with ease.  For families that are happy with their child’s sleep schedule, simply keep morning wake up and bedtime the same using the new adjusted time. You will want to wake your child at their usual time the next morning (Sunday) and carry on the day as you would normally. It may take a few days for your child to adjust but they will.


Extra Tips:

Sunlight is so important to help regulate the body's internal clock, so make sure you expose you and your child to as much sunlight as possible first thing in the morning.

Some families find that moving their entire day's activities ahead the one hour also helps.  Keep in mind that children thrive when parents provide a structured environment and dealing with the time change is no different. Keeping your everyday routines consistent will help everyone make the adjustment a bit easier.   Carry on with regular activities,  mealtimes and bedtime routines all according to the new time.

Be flexible .  The first few days of the transition may be a little rough at bedtime.  If your child normally goes to bed at 7:30 pm, after the time change, according to their body, they are going to sleep at 6:30 pm.  This may result in bedtime battles due to your child not being tired at bedtime.  Help your  child settle for the night by dimming the lights and keeping noise low.  .  

Children do not really understand what is going on so the time change can make everyone's day feel a little "off".   Not to worry!  Everyone will adjust in a few days.


Yeah Spring and happy sleeping!!!!

Kim Davis -Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant




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