Post by guest blogger Leann Latus
If you have young children then it’s likely you are worried about sleep and daylight savings time! Daylight savings time ends this Sunday and we return to standard time. At this time we “fall back” an hour on the clock, and it can really mess with our schedules.
Have you thought about how this may affect your child’s sleep? Are you worried your beloved little one will be pitter-pattering down the hallway at 5:30 a.m.?
Daylight savings time affects both adults and children. Statistically there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after the daylight savings time transition. It increases the “sleep debt” in children also, who tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning.
How to Help Your Family to Fall Back
While it almost unavoidable that the sleep in your house will get a wacky for a short while, there are a few things you can do to ease the pain. I frequently get emails from clients saying something like, “Help! Since daylight savings ending, my little girl won’t stay in bed! How do I get her back on track?” You’re in luck. Read on for some insightful tips to ease the pain of this transition.
My advice is to “split the difference.”
When it’s time to “fall back,” the best thing you can do is just leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier on Sunday morning. After your cup of coffee, go around and change the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me! If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30 a.m., you will adjust naptime by 30 minutes to 9 a.m. for three days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not so much that it will cause much damage to her schedule. Do the same for all naps.
Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7 p.m. I recommend putting that child to bed 30 minutes early at 6:30 p.m. for the first 3 days following the time change. (This will FEEL like 7:30 to your child.) And it will take about a week for your child’s body to adjust.
If you have children over the age of two, you can use a behavioral night light to help them understand when it’s OK to get up. Set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 it says 7:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wakeup time.
If you are dealing with a baby, this won’t work. Don’t rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking because you don’t want to send a message that getting up earlier is okay now. So if she normally wakes at 7:00, but is now up at 6:00, you will wait 10 minutes on the first day, and then 20 on the next day, then 6:30 the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour. On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 p.m. Adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.
The bottom line is remembering that other parents are struggling through the same shift, so there’s comfort in numbers. And set aside a little extra cash for coffee to get you through!
—> Looking for more tips on how to get healthy sleep? Check out our blog post How to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep Without Medication.
Leann Latus of Tender Transitions Sleep Coaching is a Twin Cities, MN sleep coach who helps exhausted and overwhelmed parents all over the world teach their child to sleep easily and independently.