Surviving Daylight Savings Time

Help your child adjust to "falling back" with minimal sleep loss for everyone

Try to be patient with yourself and your child. As with anything to do with our children's sleep, the key to success is consistency.

Remember Daylights Savings Time before you became a parent? It used to be a much anticipated day when you could take advantage of that extra hour, but now as parents of young children, it's just one more thing you have to navigate. Children never seem to get the memo about “Fall Back” and sleeping in!

When the clock turns back one hour, what used to be 7 a.m. is now 6 a.m. It becomes darker sooner in the evening and lighter sooner in the morning. If you have an early morning riser already, you can expect it to be even earlier once you turn the clocks back! Children who have good sleep hygiene and are generally easy going when it comes to schedules may adjust fairly easily in just a day or two. Other children who are more sensitive to change in schedules may have more trouble adjusting. Regardless of how your child might react, here are some tips from Jenn Kelner, a Family Sleep Institute Certified Child Sleep Consultant and owner of BabyZzz, and childsleep expert Amy Lage, graduate of the Family Sleep Institute and founder of Well Rested Baby, to help your child adjust to the end of Daylight Savings Time and to get through the time change with minimal sleep loss.

1. Plan ahead

You can prepare a few days ahead of time by moving your child's entire daytime schedule ahead in 15 minute increments. Start now by offering breakfast 15 minutes later than normal, then naptime 15 minutes later and so on until the entire daytime schedule has been shifted. If your child normally goes to bed at 7p.m., they should be going to bed at 7:15 p.m. Do the same thing the next day but move their schedule ahead another 15 minutes. The gradual shift should help their internal clocks adjust, making it less likely that they will lose an hour of sleep on Sunday, and hopefully sleep in!

2. Keep their bedroom dark

Make sure your child's bedroom is really dark and consider using some room darkening curtains so that the new early morning light doesn't wake your little one. Keeping the room dark encourages the production of melatonin, which helps them stay sleepy.

3. Avoid rushing in

If your child does wake earlier than you would like, try to leave them to amuse themselves until the normal wake up time to give their internal clocks a chance to reset. By leaving them a little longer than normal, you also give them the opportunity to go back to sleep.

4. Expose them to plenty of daylight

Try to expose your child to plenty of light, especially in the morning. This helps reset their internal clock making it easier to adjust to the new time.

5. Earlier bedtime to catch up

If your child has lost some sleep due to the time change, plan for an earlier bedtime over the next few days to catch up.

Try not to worry if your children aren't adjusting as well. Be patient and consistent and before you know it your children will be back on track.

The Tip Take-Away:

However you decide to handle Daylight Savings, try to be patient with yourself and your child and keep in mind that it will take some time for your child's sleep schedule to regularize. As with anything to do with our children's sleep, the key to success is consistency.