Getting Ready for Daylight Savings Time and the Clocks Springing Forward

March 9, 2016

This weekend we move the clocks forward one hour.  The mornings will begin to get brighter and evenings lighter and the best news is that parents of early risers will be able to enjoy a little more sleep in the morning – at least for a few days!


Time changes usually affect children in one of two ways:


 An easy adjust, where you can move forward cold turkey on   Sunday morning with the time on the clock and not notice much of a change; or


A more planned transition for those sensitive sleepers.  In these sensitive cases, I recommend that you introduce the change gradually.  If your child’s typical wake time is 7am move it to 6:30am for the next few days as we approach the time change, and then a final 30 minutes earlier when the clocks change.  You will most likely have to wake them earlier and I know some parents don’t like this idea.  However, this is a slow progression into the spring forward time change, and most children should easily transition.


You can even go as far as to shift the entire schedule a half hour ahead for a few days and another half hour on Sunday to make everything happen “on time”.  This would include moving meals and naps.  But keep in mind for most kids this isn’t necessary.


The most important piece of the sleep puzzle, as with all sleep adjustments, is bedtime.  You may have to move up bedtime, even if only by 15 or 30 minutes, to adjust for any lost sleep as your child adjusts.  The good news about transitioning…it seldom takes more than a week if your child already practices good sleep habits.


The bad news about bedtime, especially for those parents with preschoolers, if stalling bedtime is a regular occurrence with your child the time change may add to this problem.  Going to bed an hour earlier will mean they may not be as tired, therefore having more energy to drag out the routine.  Remember to set the limits and be consistent.


If the time change sleep struggles last more than a couple weeks, then it might be a good time to look at your child’s overall sleep routine and habits to see if any changes are needed.


As you transition through this time shift, here are a couple important tips to keep in mind:


-Exposing your child to bright sunlight in the mornings during the next week will be important to help reset his internal clock. Just ten minutes is good for an infant and up to 45 minutes for toddlers.  Bundle them up to go outside or open the blinds and have your child near the windows for a short period of time.


-Install room-darkening shades for improved day time sleep and as it gets brighter in the morning.


-Make naps a priority during this transition.  A well-napped baby will go to sleep at bedtime more easily.  Avoid overtired children!


-Watch for cues.  Remember that even your child has lost an hour of sleep during this transition and that can be a lot for their little body to handle.  So watch for sleep cues, be flexible and make the transition slowly.


-Remember your bedtime routine.  Keep evening activities calm and quiet.  Avoid the use of bright lights and screen time for at least one hour before bed – it is too stimulating.  Ensure that you plan enough wind down time before bedtime.


And if after all this things still aren’t perfect reach out to me and we can work on a customized plan to get your family some bliss.