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Daylight Savings Sleep Tips-Spring Forward

We have had a few days of warmer weather here, and the sun is lingering a little longer in the evenings, which means it is time for daylight savings to spring up again! It’s time to “spring forward” those clocks this Saturday, March 13th. Many parents dread this adjustment, because it means we all lose an hour of sleep and it can potentially throw off their little one’s sleep for a bit. Because children tend to have a consistent bedtime and wake up time, the time change can be a little tough on their bodies and take time to adjust.

So, if you are a parent that fears the dreaded time change with your kiddos, fear not...we are going to provide you with a few tips that can help make the transition to the new time go a little smoother for everyone. 

When to Set Clocks: Waking our body and mind up in the morning can be a gradual process and can take a little time (especially for those of us that are not morning people).  My recommendation is to leave your clocks alone Saturday night so that it is not as much of a shock to the body when you open your eyes to look at your clock upon waking up Sunday morning.  Instead, 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. 

How to Help Children with the Time Adjustment- My best advice for to help older children with the change is to split the difference with the old time and the new time.  How does that work?  If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 7:00pm, you would put him to bed at 7:30pm on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. Do this for 3 nights, putting him to bed 30 minutes later than normal, then on the 4th night put him to bed at the normal time, 7:00pm or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.

How to Help Toddlers with the Time Adjustment- 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 later than normal. So, if he naps at 9:30am usually, you would put him down at 10:00am. You would do the same with the afternoon nap if he takes an afternoon nap. Do this for 4 days (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday). For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00pm, you would put him down at 7:30pm. Do this for 3 nights after the time change (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) and then on the 4th night (Wednesday), put him to bed at 7:00pm and on 5th day (Thursday) move nap times back to normal time.

How to Help Babies 6 months old+ with the Time Adjustment: If you have a baby and his bedtime has become predictable (usually over 6 months old) meaning he is always going to bed around the same time each night, it is best to gradually shift the timing of his day over a few nights. For example, if bedtime is normally 7:00pm move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach the normal time. So the first night you would put him down at 7:45pm, the second night 7:30pm, and so on.  In four nights you should be back to 7:00pm.

How to Help Babies (0-6 months) with Time Adjustment: If your baby’s bedtime is not predictable (0-6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone. 

Darken Up the Room: Another tip that is helpful for those of us living in areas where the sun rises early and sets late, is to darken up your child’s room to help with the sun peeping through during the wee hours of the morning. With the sun rising so early now in the morning, your child may wake up too early and may struggle to fall back asleep, keeping their room dark helps signal to their body that it is still time to sleep. With this change also comes bedtimes that occur while it is still light outside, so darkening the room can be very helpful to increase melatonin levels at bedtime, making it easier for your little one to fall asleep.  A common misconception is the idea that with the increased in daylight hours, children don’t need as much sleep, but the truth is they still need the same amount of sleep they typically get.

Be Patient. It Takes Time: It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep in the beginning of this process, and rest assure that this is normal. Since the time is different initially they won’t be as tired at bedtime. It usually takes about a week or two for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time, for some children it can take up to a month. Be patient and consistent, and don't worry it will happen.

Get outside: One of the elements that helps set the circadian rhythm is daylight. To help your body clock adjust to the new time, make sure to get your family outside a couple of times a day to  encourage your body to sync up with the with the natural daylight. 

We hope these tips find you well and help you through the start of Daylight Savings!

About the author

Amanda Medley

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Sleep Specialists

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Working with Shannon, I went from 2-3 wake ups every night to 1 or 0. She aligned the plan with my preferred sleep cycle. She was always coaching, never judging. Shannon was great, I have referred MANY people to her! That's the best testament to her work that I can give.

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