Can you believe that Daylight Saving Time is nearly here…already?! It seems like just yesterday that we “fell back”. Many of us will be springing forward this Sunday, March 13 at 2 a.m., and if you’re feeling a bit on edge about how this will impact your child’s sleep schedule, then you’re not alone! Luckily though, there’s just enough time left to prepare, and it really shouldn’t be all that bad.
Tip 1: Fine-tune the sleep environment
I’m sure that you’ve already put a lot of thought into setting up your child’s perfect sleep environment (a room that is dark, cool, free from distraction, and maybe complete with a little white noise), but when it comes to Daylight Saving Time, you’ll want to go over most of these elements to prevent any of the common repercussions of more daylight from interfering with your child’s circadian rhythms.
In particular, you’ll want to make sure that your child's room is as dark as possible - so if it’s currently a 4 on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of darkness, take the next few days to make it a 5! Blocking out any little bit of light will mask that it’s actually light out at bedtime and earlier in the morning. Doing so will also help with your child's melatonin production, which will naturally help to induce drowsiness and improve sleep-onset. Additionally, early morning sun and warmer temperatures can also lead to warmer homes and more outdoor noise earlier in the morning (it’s nice to listen to birds chirping, but not so much at 5 a.m.!), so double-check that the temperature of the room and white noise levels are adjusted if need be.
Tip 2: Know when to shift your child’s schedule
In terms of your child’s sleep schedule, you’ll need to decide to either gradually shift it in the days leading up to the time change, or to just follow the new time come March 13th.
If your child has an easier temperament and typically adapts well to changes in his schedule, you should be fine to just follow the new clock. Although it might take him a few days to fully adjust, just remain consistent with your schedule and routine, and his sleep should be back on track within a matter of days.
If your child has a more difficult temperament and usually doesn’t adapt well to changes in his sleep schedule, then you might want to opt for a more gradual approach, particularly if he tends to wake up around 7 a.m. or later. Should this be the case, start to shift all sleep periods (wake-up, naps and bedtime) as well as activities in his daily routine 15 minutes earlier each day in the days leading up to the time change. So, if he currently awakes at 7 a.m., start by waking him up at 6:45 a.m., then 6:30 a.m. so on and so forth, and putting him down 15 minutes earlier throughout the day. After four days or so, his schedule should be an hour earlier and the time change should be more palatable. If your child has this kind of temperament but is also an early riser, simply shift naps and bedtime, and once the clocks change, his early rising should hopefully be a distant memory - as a 5:30 a.m. will turn to 6:30 a.m.!
Tip 3: Keep the schedule low-key and be consistent
Keep your family’s schedule low-key in the days leading up to changing your clocks. Be mindful about trying to keep your child as rested as possible, and consider passing on family outings that will get you home past bedtime and risk throwing off the schedule even further.
Finally, throughout this transition, be consistent, stick to your child’s sleep routine, and continue to relay a positive attitude towards sleep. Even if things don’t go as planned, you’ll all be back to sleeping like babies in no time!