It’s almost that time a year again! On Sunday, November 4, our clocks will "fall back" from 2:00am to 1:00am, and most of us will be keeping our fingers and toes crossed that our entire family will benefit from an extra hour of sleep...which sadly will likely not be the case :( Unfortunately most children simply can't stay in bed an hour later on demand (who knew?!), and their little internal clocks just need a little more time to adjust.
However, the good news is that there are certain steps that can be taken leading up to the new time, depending on your child's current sleep habits and temperament. So here are some tips to help make this transition as smooth as possible.
Tip 1: For late risers waking up 7:00am or later
Great news, as you can just stick with the status quo! Your child's schedule will naturally be shifted by an hour with DST, so if your little one is currently waking up at 7:30am, you'll be looking at a 6:30am wake time once the clocks change. You may be thinking to yourself that this is a little on the early side, but healthy sleep habits actually encourage a morning wake time between 6:00-7:00am for children, so this would be a great way to get your child on an optimal sleep schedule!
Tip 2: For those waking up 6:00-7:00am, who easily adapt to schedule changes
Great news as well, as you don't have anything to do. Although your child may wake up before 6:00am the first morning or two after the clocks change, just continue to follow the new time for naps and bedtime, and your child should be fully adjusted to the new time within a couple of days.
Tip 3: For those waking up 6:00-7:00am, who are more sensitive to schedule changes
If your child wakes up between 6:00-7:00am, but tends to be sensitive to schedule changes, then it would be best to gradually shift the sleep schedule before DST. To do so, simply shift forward by 10-15 minutes your child’s morning wake time, nap times and bedtime in the 4-7 days leading up to the time change. Although this shouldn't be too difficult for naps and bedtime, the morning wake time will be the hardest to control - so just do your best. If anything, just try not to respond before the time you wish to get your little one up, and when this happens, be sure to stretch your child's awake time before his or her first nap (or only nap if the morning nap has already been dropped), in order to shift the nap time - even if the wake time didn't change for that day.
Tip 4: For early risers waking up before 6:00am
If you happen to have an early bird on your hands (I feel for you...I’ve been there!), the ideal would be to first try to address the early rising issue before you work on shifting your child's schedule even more in the 4-7 days leading up to the time change. So first, work on getting your little one to sleep until at least 6:00am. Although this isn't always easy, what typically works best is to simply hold off from entering his or her room before this time. If you're uncomfortable with this approach, then briefly respond to your child by offering some reassurance for about a minute, and then quickly exit the room to give him or her a little bit of space uninterrupted to settle. You may need to repeat this a several times depending on how your child responds.
If you’re successful at getting your child to wake up closer to 6:00am at least a week before DST, then simply apply what was previously explained in Tip 3, and shift forward the wake time, nap times, and bedtime by 10-15 minutes each day in the 4-7 days leading up to the time change. If you’re unfortunately not able to get your little one to sleep until close to 7:00am by the time DST rolls around, then simply continue to work on getting him or her to wake up more towards 6:00am, which will at least leave your child's current wake time of 5:00am intact once the time change hits, instead of sticking with the status quo and being left with a 4:00am wake time come November 4...which would certainly not be fun :(
Regardless of how things turn out, just do your best and trust that things will be back to normal within a few days. Questions? Let’s chat!