Time to move your clocks back one hour. This Sunday marks the end of Daylight Savings Time. Most of us look forward to this extra hour of sleep or plan to use the hour to accomplish something special. However, to parents of young children, this time change is dreaded as it means, at best, that their children will be waking up one hour earlier. At worst, it means that children’s schedules will be thrown off, and hard won sleep habits will be disrupted.
Here are some tips to smooth the transition. There are 3 basic ways of transitioning into the new time. Use one or a combination of these methods and your child’s sleep schedule should be back on track in a few days to a week.
Tip 1 – Cold Turkey: When the time changes, switch to the new time right away. Also switch meals, activities, and naps to the new time. Wake up times may be a bit off for a few days but they will adjust. Don't start the day before 6am. If your child is fairly easy going, adjustment should be quick and painless with this method.
Tip 2 – Work up to it: This is helpful for children that may be more sensitive to being overtired, to changes in schedules, or who tend to wake up early. Start 4 days before the time change by moving bedtime and wake up time 15 minutes later each day. You can take an even slower approach if you want to. At the new wake up time, make a big deal about morning, turn the lights on and expose your child to the outdoor light as much as possible.
Tip 3 – Fix it after: Wait until the day of the time change and adjust the child's schedule over the following days. This method is good for children that tend to get over-tired, however it can make for some early mornings and can take longer. Most of us will naturally adjust to the new time within a week.
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Certified Gentle Sleep Coach and Child Sleep Consultant