I love the changing of the seasons, particularly what happens during the fall season - the changing of the leave, warm cups of hot cocoa, snuggle hats and mittens for me and my littles. It's such a great and cozy time of year!
However, one particular event that happens during the fall that I don't enjoy is Daylight Savings Time, the event in which we turn our clocks back one hour. When this time change happens, this year on November 5th, it feels like it is dark, ALL OF THE TIME. Additionally, I also don't like the impact it has on my littles and my families' littles. Moving the clocks back just one hour can really affect their body clock and sleep schedules!
Luckily, I have five tips that you can use to help navigate the time change and help make it less stressful for you and your littles.
1. Wait to Change the Time
Do yourself a favor, even if it's only psychological. Wait to turn your clock back an hour after you've had a chance to wake up, enjoy breakfast with the family, or drink your life-altering morning cup of coffee. Once everyone has a full belly, then go around the house and change all of your clocks. (Don't forget the ones in your vehicles!) This will help you and your littles feel a little more in control of the time change, and make it less stressful.
2. Split the Difference!
If your child is still taking naps, don't expect that they will be able to handle waiting that extra hour before the new naptime. Split the difference and have them go down for their naps approximately 30 minutes "earlier" than they normal would. If their naptime is normally at 10:00 AM, then under the new time, it would be at 9:30 AM. This would also apply for their afternoon nap as well. Split the difference for 2-3 days, and then you can move it to the new "usual" time.
Special note: for babies younger than a year old, it's much harder for them to handle a 30 minute change in their schedule. Instead, make 10-15 minute adjustments to their naptimes and slowly move your way back to the normal naptime. It is perfectly okay if it takes a week to make the time adjustments. We don't want to throw your baby into being overtired, which throws everything off-kilter.
3. Move Bedtime Slowly
Following the same strategy for naps, this applies to all littles. Instead of sticking firm with the 7:00 PM bedtime (which will feel like 8:00 PM to your littles), move bedtime to 6:30 PM for three nights (which will feel like 7:30 PM, much more manageable). On Night 4, then move bedtime to 7:00 PM, after their bodies have had a chance to adjust to the time change and realign their body clocks.
4. Wait Out the Wake Ups
With the new time change, your little one will likely begin to wake up an hour earlier than normal. But remember, according to their body clocks, they're waking up right on time! So we need to help their morning body clocks adjust to the new time change. You can do this by adjusting their wake up time 10-15 minutes each morning to help them re-calibrate their body clocks. So if your little one normally wakes up at 6:00 AM, and after the time change, they start waking up at 5:00 AM, wait until 5:10 to get them if they're crying and ready to get up. The next day, you would wait until 5:20, the following day, 5:30 and so on. By the end of the week, your little one should be back to their normal wake up times and sleep until 6:00 AM once again.
5. Be Patient
Keep in mind that it will take at least a week for your child to adjust to the time change. As long as you remain consistent and adjust their bedtimes and naptimes to accommodate their sleep needs and guide their body clocks through the time change, by the end of the week, things should be relatively back to normal.
Daylight Savings Time affects all of us, but the impact can be pretty significant on our littles, as they are extremely reliant on having set schedules and have higher sleep needs that adults do. Their dependence on structure and routine is what largely propels most negative effects that we see when the time changes occur. Having more patience and knowledge of what's happening in their bodies can help both you and your child navigate through the schedule changes with less stress as the adjustment goes on.
My hope is that these tips can help you feel more prepared to face Daylight Savings Time and make the transition more smooth for all involved. Take care, and sleep well!
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.