As daylight saving approaches, most of us look forward to an extra hour of daylight.
But, although our clocks only change on the October 2, I am already receiving calls from anxious parents worried about how that extra hour will throw their child’s schedules and disrupt their sleep.
Whether your child is a good sleeper or not, you should have a plan to make the transition a smooth one.
There are two basic ways in which to do this:
Use one or a combination of these methods and your child’s sleep schedule should be back on track in a few days to a week.
The 2 ways to transition your child’s sleep to daylight saving time
The Gradual Method
This approach is less drastic and is helpful for children that may be more sensitive to change or disrupted schedules, or the kind of children that tend to wake up on the early side.
Starting just a few days before the time change, move your child’s bedtime earlier by 15 minutes each day so that by the time you get to Saturday night, he is going to sleep a full hour earlier.
For example, if your child normally goes to bed at 6:30pm, put him down at 6:15pm. For example on Friday night put child to sleep at 6:15pm on Saturday night 6:45pm and on Sunday scheduled sleep time of 6:30pm. Remember, these times assume “clock” time, not your child’s internal clock.
You can also apply this method to nap times and meal times in gradual 15-minute increments.
The Adjust-As-You-Go Method
After your child goes to bed on Saturday, simply change the clock an hour ahead and follow your child’s regular schedule according to the “new time” on Sunday (which will be an hour ahead).
This is great for parents whose child has been waking at 5.30am will now wake at 6.30am. How good is that your early raiser is now waking at an acceptable time, problem solved!
Switch all meals, activities and naps to the new time as well. Your child’s wake up times may be a bit off for a few days, but don’t worry, they will adjust. Try not to start the day before 6:00am if possible.
Bedtime may be a struggle to start with if you choose this option. If your child normally goes to bed at 6.30pm, (before we changed the clock was 5:30pm), your child may not be tired and ready for sleep at that time. Hang in there. Stick to your child’s normal bedtime routine and make sure that their bedroom is “sleep-friendly,” complete with room darkening shades.
You should notice that your child’s internal clock will adjust to this new time within a week.
4 tips to help when switching to Daylight Savings Time
- Keep consistency with sleep times and routines
- Exposing your child to natural light in the morning will help reset their own internal clock
- Rooms will be lighter, so ensure they are darkened with shades or block outs for bed time
- Avoid bright lights and limit exposure to electronics, such as TV, computers, tablets etc. well before bedtime which will allow the internal body clock to adjust