Spring Forward! How to adjust your child's sleep schedule for Daylight Saving
Spring is right around the corner and we are finding ourselves at yet another time change, but this time we spring forward! On Sunday, March 13 at 2:00am our clocks will shift forward one hour. While this time change doesn’t always feel as tough as the fall, any change in a child’s sleep schedule can bring on anxiety for parents. Here are strategies that will help your child adjust to their new sleep schedule.
1. Plan Ahead.
4-5 days before the time change begin shifting your child's schedule earlier by 15-minutes each day. So, on Wednesday March 9, all sleep periods (morning wake-up, all naps, and bedtime) will be shifted 15-minutes earlier. For example, if your child's normal bedtime is at 7:00PM, the adjusted time will at 6:45PM. On March 11, the adjusted time will be at 6:30PM. Continue shifting their sleep schedule 15 minutes earlier each day and on Sunday March 13, when your clocks spring forward, you’ll already be at the new adjusted time! This schedule is especially helpful for babies and toddlers, but can also be helpful if your child already has difficulty sleeping prior to time change.
2. Wait Until Sunday.
On March 13, the day of the time change, shift your child’s schedule 30 minutes later than their usual time. So, if your current wake up is at 6:00AM, the adjusted wake time would be 6:30AM. This helps ease your child into the transition, rather than simply going for the full 1-hour time jump. Do the same for all naps and bedtime. For older kiddos no longer napping, try to avoid extra napping during the day that could affect nighttime sleep as they adjust, but definitely still get in that quiet time! This option works well for older toddlers and school-aged children.
Other ways to help your child adjust throughout the week:
Stick to your normal routines.
Once time has changed, meals, naps, quiet times, snacks, and bedtimes, all should continue occurring at their normal time. Avoid giving in to the early morning wakings by sticking to your normal wake-up time. Children respond well to consistency AND routine. The closer you stick to your normal routine the easier and more quickly they will be able to adjust.
**if your child uses a wake-up clock, don’t forget to adjust it the night before to the new wake up time to avoid early morning wake-ups!
Our bodies naturally respond to light, it’s what helps keep our internal clocks on track. Use light to help your child adjust. Our natural tendency is to dim lights when we wake up, but I challenge you to turn on lights as soon as you wake in the morning, open blinds, and get outside in the morning and the afternoon. Exposure to light helps our bodies regulate the production of cortisol and melatonin - the 2 hormones that regulate our sleep cycles. This is a great natural way to help our bodies stay on track! Plus, it gives an opportunity to get out all that extra energy.
Use Black out Curtains.
Remember, with this time change, it will become lighter earlier in the morning and will stay light later in the evening. Black out curtains will help you to control the amount of light streaming through your child’s windows and help them stay on track. Even the smallest sliver of light can prevent your child from falling asleep and sleeping well, so block that light out! Don’t have black out curtains; try these!
We can’t expect our children to adjust to a new time over night. Planning ahead can help ease this sometimes difficult transition, but remember change is hard on everyone. Our bodies will think it’s earlier than it actually is and it is likely that your child might take a bit longer to fall asleep initially. Just remember to be patient with your little one's and yourself. It can take up to a week for your child’s body to fully adjust to this new schedule, but I promise you all will get through this!
If you would like some extra help or guidance through this transition, check out my service page here. I would love to help you and your family get the rest you deserve, even through a time change!