Yup, it is almost that time of year. Again. If you are thinking ‘didn’t we just deal with a time change? How can it possibly be time for another one!?’, well I am right there with you. Unfortunately, I don’t really get a say on Daylight Savings Time, so here we go again. The “Spring Forward” time change is coming up in less than a week.
This is the time change dreaded by most people, even people who aren’t parents because we LOSE an hour of sleep. This leads to increased heart attacks, traffic accidents, and less productivity in the workplace. So really, it is pretty ridiculous that we still do this time change thing. Nonetheless, we do, and I want to help you prepare!
Here is your guide for helping your kids adjust to the ‘Spring Forward’ time change and keeping sleep on track:
Adjusting sleep schedules
Spring Forward Sleep Strategy One (the simplest version):
My advice is to “split the difference”, so when our clocks move forward, take three days to help your kiddos’ bodies get used to the time change by adjusting their naps and bedtime by 30 minutes. So if your child typically naps at 9:30 AM and 2:00 PM with bedtime at 7:00 PM, for three days after the time change they will nap at 10:00 AM (feels like 9:00 AM to them) and 2:30 PM (feels like 1:30 PM) with bedtime at 7:30 PM (feels like 6:30 PM).
Additionally, try not to let your child sleep much later than usual per the clock. If you child generally gets up at 7:00 AM, during the 3 day adjustment period, you can try to wake them up by 7:30 AM (feels like 6:30 AM) in order to help them adjust more quickly.
On the 4th day, adjust nap times, bedtimes and wake times back to match their normal times per the clock.
Spring Forward Sleep Strategy Two (the longer version):
If your child is very sensitive to overtiredness (most common with younger babies) you can adjust a bit more slowly if it works for your family. Adjust naps and bedtimes by 15 minutes every 2-3 days. This will take you 6 to 9 days this way. This gradual approach can help reduce the daily impact on your
Spring Forward Sleep Strategy Three (The Do-Nothing Version):
Want your little one to go to sleep an hour later and wake up an hour later? Well, I’ve got good news for you! This time change does it all for you. Yay! Mentally adjust your little one’s naptimes and bedtimes on the clock, and you are done! So, if your little one was going to bed at 6:30 PM, now bedtime is 7:30 PM! For families without kiddos in school or without strict wake-up times to get to work and daycare, this can be a great option for spring and summer!
Another bonus if this strategy works for your family, you can skip the next section because your child will feel like they are going to sleep at the same time for naps and bedtime.
Falling asleep at bedtime and naps
Since it is going to feel earlier than usual for your child, it may take them a little bit longer to fall asleep at naps and bedtime because they are not quite as tired. This is to be expected so try not to worry too much about it. The good news is that it should only take about a week for your child to adjust to the time change and be back on track!
Darkness is an important aspect
You may be tempted to just let your child stay up later, but this can lead to a whole bunch of unintended, not so fun consequences such as kids getting overtired before bed and then having a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep, not getting enough sleep because they are going to bed late and waking up at the same time for school, daycare, etc. which can lead to a sleep debt, all of this can lead to cranky, uncooperative kids. Something as parents, I don’t think any of us want. So close the curtains, tell your child the sun is going to bed and it is time for them to go to bed too!
Being consistent with how you handle going to bed, falling asleep and wakings. Consistent routines cue our children’s bodies and brain that it is going to be time to sleep. Don’t change the rules or expectations around their sleep and sleep habits. They will feel confident in their sleep routines and expectations which can help them fall asleep more easily.
As with most things involved in parenting, patience is also an aspect
Overtiredness and sleep debts can create a vicious cycle that will take longer to correct the longer they have gone on. So, if more than 2 weeks have passed since the time change and sleep is still all over the place and not falling back into place, reach out to me so we can get the sleep at your house back on track sooner rather than later!
Cheers to healthy, happy sleep!