Fall Back- Daylight Saving Time and Your Child’s Sleep

It is that time of year again that strikes fear in the heart of parents with small children- the end of Daylight Saving.  And yes we have the added bonus of it happening the morning after Halloween- Hooray!  At 2 a.m. on November 1st we turn our clocks back one hour throwing off our children’s schedules and our own.  While it can be frustrating it does not have to wreak havoc on your family’s sleep.  Here are some tips to keep you sane:

  • Don’t freak out- just like many other moments in parenthood this too will pass
  • Know your child- do you have an easy going child? One who is slower to adapt? Or one who is challenging?
  • Shift your schedule according to your child’s personality. An easy going child will likely need no intervention- simply change the clocks and move forward at the new time.  If your child is a bit slower to warm up to change consider starting on the Friday before by pushing your whole routine- meals, naps, etc. – back one hour giving everyone an extra couple of days to get in sync.  You may find it necessary to begin more slowly with your challenging child beginning the weekend before and adjusting the schedule back in 15 minute increments every few days finally getting to the one hour mark on the 1st.
  • Sleep is largely governed by our circadian rhythms and the production of melatonin which is strongly influenced by light and darkness. Because of this you may find it helpful to keep your home darker longer in the morning to help counteract that early waking that often comes as a result of DST and retrain the brain to the new wake time.  In turn, it also helps to keep your home lighter later in the evening to help stave off sleep inducing melatonin for that extra hour even though it is dark outside.  Finally, getting outdoors in the sunlight during the day and late afternoon will help the brain regulate its melatonin production and adapt accordingly to the new time.
  • Use this as an opportunity to check in with your sleep hygiene- tighten your schedule up, don’t skimp on your bedtime routine, ensure the sleep environment is dark, cool and quiet.
  • Be consistent and be patient. Stick closely with your schedule and routine for the 2 weeks following the change to give you little one the best chance at adapting.
  • Finally…  don’t freak out- it bears repeating :)

Sweet dreams!


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