This Sunday is daylight savings and it will be time to “fall back” the clocks. I know, I know, you hate it right? You’re not alone! I hate it too! It feels like such a waste of time and energy, and sleep to do this twice a year. So many parents worry what the time change will do to their child’s sleep, especially if you have a Live Love Sleep graduate – who sleeps really well and takes awesome naps. Children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning. This is why people usually can see a greater effect on children when the time changes.
However, there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go smoother. My recommendation is to leave your clocks alone Saturday night. Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, then go around your house and change your clocks. Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time.
My advice to help children transition to the change is to split the difference with the old and new time. How does that work?
School Age Children and Daylight Savings
If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 7:00 p.m., you would put him to bed at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. Do this for 3 nights, putting him to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal. Then on the 4th night, put him to bed at the normal time, 7:00 p.m. in this example.
Toddlers and Survive Daylight Savings
If you have a toddler ages one and older, on Sunday the first day of the time change, you would put him down for his first nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if he naps usually at 9:30 a.m. put him down at 9:00 a.m. You would do the same with the afternoon nap if he takes an afternoon nap. For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00 p.m., you would put him down at 6:30 p.m. Do this for 3 nights after the time change. Then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00 p.m. On 5th day move naptimes back to normal time. So if your child naps at 9:30 a.m. put him down at 9:30 a.m. and so on with the rest of the day.
Babies and Survive Daylight Savings
If you have a baby you’ll first need to determine if his sleep is predictable or not.
Bedtime and naps have become predictable when your baby is always going to bed around the same time each day. This is usually the case with babies over 6 months old. So if bedtime is normally 7:00 p.m. move bedtime 15 minutes later each night. You will continue doing this until you reach the normal time again. On the first night you would put him down at 6:15 p.m., the second night 6:30 p.m., and so on. On the fourth night you should be back to 7:00 p.m. Do the same thing for naps. Start 45 minutes earlier than normal and move them 15 minutes later each day. So if morning nap is usually at 9:00 a.m. then start with 8:15 a.m. on Sunday. Then on Monday move the nap to 8:30 a.m., 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday and then 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Do the same for the afternoon nap.
If their bedtime and naptimes are not predictable (0-6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night. Use their wake time window (awake time between sleep periods) as your guide.
A great thing about this time change is that there are more hours of darkness which helps make this transition a little easier. If your child wakes up too early, walk them back to their room and tell them it’s not time to get up yet. If your child wakes up too early and is in a crib, be sure to help his body understand it isn’t morning time by keeping him in his crib in the dark room until normal wake time.
Note for Toddlers/School-Aged Children
If you have a toddler or an older child who relies on a clock to know when their “morning time” has arrived, set the clock one half hour ahead of the new time so that it reads 7:00 a.m. at the new time of 6:30 a.m. Allow your child to wake a bit earlier than normal (they will think it is 7:00 according to the clock but it will be 6:30 a.m., new time). This will only be temporary as your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00 a.m. time after about one or two weeks.
It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep. This is normal, since the time is different initially they might seem tired earlier. It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time. However, some children it can take up to a month. Be patient and stay very consistent, it will happen.
To healthy sleep,
Kaley Medina, Your Dallas Sleep Consultant & Houston Sleep Consultant