Most parents don’t mind it so much in the fall when gaining an extra hour of sleep, but the idea of the time change in spring sends fear through parent’s bones when they hear they are going to miss out on 60 sweet minutes of slumber.
The start of daylight saving time with spring forward time is loved from a daylight perspective by dreaded from a sleep perspective.
And for parents the dread is doubled… Even changing time by one hour can wreak havoc on sleep schedules. It often takes babies, toddlers and school age-children longer to get used to the time change, especially if they have a fairly defined schedule already.
This “adjustment lag” results because they tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake time than adults. So changing the clocks, by even one hour, has a greater (and longer lasting) effect on children as compared to adults.
As Sleeper Teachers™ we’ve had parents asking for weeks about the best way to handle daylight saving time and sleep. So without any further ado… Here ya go!
How do I help my family adjust to Daylight Saving Time?
We will break down the various age groups with the schedule that is best for each. We have included an example scenario for each group because that will make it easier to follow! This is one of those things that shouldn’t be complicated, but it can be.
Don’t overthink this… We’ve already done the thinking for you.
Newborns + young babes with a “wake window” schedule
If your little one’s bedtime is not predictable or is determined by their wake window (mostly for babies under 9 months old), simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone. If your little one normally goes to bed 1.5 hours after his last nap of the day, then you will follow that as normal. At this age, adjustments happen quickly as parents are typically following time spent awake rather than a set bedtime! Consider yourself lucky, and be sure to reach out to us in the fall when you need “real” help as we end the time change!
“Set schedule” Infants + Toddlers (9 months to 3 years)
If you have a baby or toddler with a predictable bedtime, meaning they are always going to bed around the same time each night, you will adjust the difference by making bedtime 15 minutes EARLIER than their “new normal”.
For example, if bedtime is normally 7:00 pm, the clock will now read 8:00. Rather than trying to make it to bedtime at 8:00 pm for bedtime, you will move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night (from the “new” time) until you reach the normal time. So Sunday night you would put babe down at 7:45 pm (will feel like 6:45), Monday night at 7:30 pm, Tuesday night at 7:15 pm and Wednesday night will be back to 7:00 pm!
This 15 minute gradual approach will not impact the awake times of your little one as much as adjusting the full hour would!
This same technique goes for naps, too. A 10:00 nap (clock will now read 11:00), will take place at 10:45 on Sunday, then 10:30 on Monday, then 10:15 on Tuesday, then back to 10:00 by Wednesday.
School-age kiddos, teens + adults
For the older kiddos (pre-school and beyond), we will split the difference. If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 8:00 pm (clock now reads 9:00 pm), you would put them to bed at 8:30 pm on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. This will feel like 7:30 to them, but it is better than adjusting the full hour and having it feel like 7:00 pm!
Do this 30 minute adjustment for three nights, then on Wednesday night bedtime will be back to 8:00 pm, or their normal (pre-time change) bedtime.
This same strategy rings true for adults! Adjust your bedtime by making it 30 minutes LATER Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and then go back to your normal bedtime by Wednesday night. Ta-Da!
Don’t let the bright light bite
Another tip that is helpful this time of year is to darken the bedrooms in your house in the evening! As we get closer and closer to summer, kiddos may struggle to fall asleep while it is still light outside.
Darkening the room can be very helpful to avoid any extra bedtime protest. Even though there are extra hours of daylight, little ones still need the same amount of sleep after we switch to daylight saving time.
We often hear from parents that this time change is particularly tough because it is easy to lose track of what time it is in the evening. You get the kiddos home from school/activities/daycare and next thing you know, it is 8:00 pm!
Our advice here is to set an alarm on your phone to signal for you the start of dinner and winding down. It may sound silly, but if you can get your own evening on track, you are more likely to see success with your littles.
What to expect
Even with this gradual change, it may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, and this is totally normal. Since the time is different and their bodies think it is earlier than the clocks say, it is possible that they won’t be as tired at bedtime, initially.
This can be shocking to parents because we are just talking about a 15 or 30-minute difference if you follow the plan above. But, change is change! It usually takes about a week for the full adjustment. Be patient and consistent, and get your mindset right… It will happen!
We’ve gotcha covered!
And if you need help with sleep in your family due to springing forward, flu season, traveling or just… #life, you know that the Sleeper Teachers™ are always here for you!
You can book a free sleep evaluation call here!
Cheers to later sunsets, spring weather and sleep!
XO, Brittney and the Sleeper Teachers