Five Tips To Prepare Your Child For The End Of Daylight Saving
The end of daylight-saving time always seems to be a challenging time for parents. As if we don’t have enough change to deal with, this season brings another difficult shift as we move to “shorter days”.
Personally, it is always hard for me to accept that we only get the sun until 430pm, making dinnertime, bedtime, and everything else feel totally off. And even though we “gain” an hour of sleep, the thought of trying to re-work nap and bedtimes is enough to give any parent a headache.
The good news is, there are ways to minimize the effects of this time shift, so it doesn’t wreak havoc on your child’s sleep schedule. By preparing for the time change now with these five steps, it might even be a seamless transition once it’s time to fall back.
1) Prepare by going to bed later for the week leading up to the time change. I don’t want to overcomplicate this, so let’s keep it simple! To prepare for the “fall” back, you can move your child’s bedtime gradually later (about 10/15 min each night) over the week prior so that he feels ready for sleep once we change the clocks. This also helps to prevent your child from becoming over-tired which can affect both daytime and nighttime sleep.
To give you an example, if your child is currently going to sleep at 7pm, the goal when moving bedtime later the week leading up, is to shift her internal clock so that 7pm doesn’t feel like 8pm once the change hits. So, the week before you are moving bedtime later and later, but then once we fall back, you’ll go back to a 7pm (or your normal) bedtime. Make sense?
2) Anticipate early rising and be prepared. If you’re moving bedtime later, hopefully your child isn’t still waking early, but it is possible because anytime there is a shift in sleeping patterns, our cycles can feel a bit off. If your child wakes early, try allowing her time in her crib/room to hang out (assuming she doesn’t become upset) and encourage that independent time before getting her up. If your child is a bit older you may want to invest in an ok-to-wake clock which gives the green light once it’s time to get up for the day!
3) Be mindful of exposure to sunlight and darkness throughout the day/evening. Our body’s internal sleep cycles (circadian rhythm) are regulated by light and darkness and heavily influenced by our environment. This is why we often become sleepy once it starts to get dark and many of us wake up with the sun. You can help your child’s 24-hour sleep cycle by exposing her to light first thing in the morning and throughout the day, with her last sun exposure around 4pm. If your child’s bedtime is typically later (as in past 8pm), you may want to consider moving it up slightly since her body will likely become tired earlier as a natural result of having darkness earlier.
4) Base naptimes off of awake windows and stay consistent. If you’re currently following a nap schedule, you may find that your child needs to sleep earlier or later than usual, depending on awake times. You want to follow awake times more closely for the first couple weeks as opposed to the clock since sleep might be disrupted a bit. For example, if your child wakes really early, you want to shorten that morning awake window, so she isn’t over-tired throughout the day.
After a few weeks you want nap-times to be pretty close to where they were before (as in time on the clock), so if that isn’t happening and it seems naps are all over the place, your child might be having a hard time adjusting. That might be the time to reach out to us for some additional guidance/help!
5) Try to be patient and not to worry. As we all know, the effects of sleep deprivation impact the entire family. Children are just as confused about the time change as we are, and although our bodies will adjust naturally (eventually), some have a harder time than others. If you notice meltdowns become a bit more frequent after the time change, try and remember that lack of sleep could be the culprit. I encourage you to set aside more quiet time and maybe even an extra nap while you all try to adjust to this new season.
Just remember, you’ll get through this time and try not to worry or change anything drastically in order to over-correct sleep. It will fall into place, but some children are more sensitive sleepers than others (and that’s ok!)