On November 7th we will turn the clocks back and daylight savings comes to an end. For parents with small children, ‘falling back’ doesn’t mean that you can spend an extra hour in bed. Parents of small children dread these changes in schedules, rightfully so! These shifts in schedules can create challenges with nap and bedtime routines. With some understanding on how the time change affects our sleep and planning ahead for our child, you can make this transition easier!
Daylight Savings – Falling back
For those who don’t have young children, you will get an extra hour of sleep on November 7th – yay! For those with small children, this is the more difficult time change because schedules are moving BACK one hour. This time change can be especially challenging for children who are already early risers. As an example, a child who typically sleeps from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. will now be on a 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. schedule. The amount of sleep they get has not changed, but the clock has. Children who are already struggling with sleep may have difficulty adjusting to this change and it could take up to two weeks for their internal clocks to adjust.
Fortunately, there are ways to plan for this time change, let’s dive into it.
Making this happen
If your child is not sensitive to schedule changes
If your baby is a great sleeper and is typically not sensitive to schedule changes, then you don’t need to do anything prior to Daylight Saving Time. The adjustment is going to require very little effort on your part and is all done after the time change. You will be responding to the time change, rather than anticipating the time change. You will do this by moving their entire schedule forward by 30 minutes the day of the time change.
If your child is sensitive to schedule changes
You will want to gradually shift wakeup time, bedtime and naps in the days leading up to November 7. To change our biological clocks by one hour, you will move wake time, naps and bedtime slowly over a few days in anticipation of the time change. This means you will put your child to sleep 15 minutes later each day for a week leading up to the time change.
Daylight Savings How to Guide
The beginning and end of daylight saving time can cause disruptions to sleep for adults and children. Younger children will likely get up an hour earlier after this time change but by using the tips above and making small changes to your child’s sleep schedule before November 7th, it can help ease the transition.
No matter which plan you choose, keep in mind these 4 important tips:
1) Maintain a consistent bedtime routine.
A bedtime routine doesn’t have to be complicated; it just needs to be the same each and every night.
For example: bath, lotion, pajamas, feed, book, lullaby, into crib.
The pattern of these events prepares your baby for sleep no matter what time the clock is reading.
2) Use light and darkness!
During awake time, expose your baby to natural daylight. Grab your stroller or carrier and get out of the house. Take a nice walk or go on your deck to have your coffee. If it’s cold out, open up your blinds and to get natural light from the windows or at least open all the lights in your house. Exposure to light early in the day helps produce melatonin, the sleepy hormone, for sleep that night. Light in the afternoon and evening can help your baby stay awake until bedtime.
When it’s time for nap or bedtime routine, you want to start to dim the lights and then turn them off completely. Make sure to keep it pitch dark until it’s time to start the day. Even a small amount of light coming through their windows can cause melatonin production to stop and their eyes to open.
Light and darkness does make a big impact on sleep and can have a big impact on night waking’s and early morning wakeups.
3) Give yourself some time and grace.
Time changes take time (no pun intended) for our bodies to adjust. The best approach is to be flexible, open minded and remember that we’re human, these changes take time! Your baby will adjust to their normal schedule but it can take up to two weeks for these adjustments to take place.
Try to give your baby some time and space to adjust, and give yourself some too!
4) Help is here if you need it!
Try to remember that the falling back daylight savings adjustment is about shifting your baby’s sleep schedule and circadian rhythm. This is not an easy shift. Unlike a sleep regression, this transition is all about shifting your child’s internal clock.
If you’ve shifted your baby’s schedule and you are experiencing early morning wakeups I have a guide for you. If your struggle is bigger than just early waking’s, please know I have services to help your sleep train. I’ll give you the step-by-step guidance you need to set your days and nights up for success!