Who here hates Daylight Saving Time? Fingers crossed this is the last year we have to even talk about this… But unfortunately, we’re still “falling back” this year at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 6.
Every year I get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle daylight savings time and children’s sleep.
The time change really does affect our sleep patterns, not just for our children but for adults, too. Did you know that there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after daylight savings time kicks in? All of us feel the change in our sleep schedule, and it can increase our sleep debt – especially in children, who tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning.
But if you’re a mom, I don’t need to tell you that Daylight Saving Time can mess with your family’s sleep. What you really want to know is…what can you do about it?
Don’t Touch That Clock
My recommendation is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day.
After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks.
It will feel much better this way, trust me!
How can I prepare my child for the time change ahead of time?
Check out the graphic below for a visual explanation, but if you want to have the least effect on your sleep when the time changes, my advice is to make the adjustment slowly. Ideally, you’ll start this process a full week before the time changes, but if you have a little less than a week you can still make it work. What you want to do is adjust your child’s wake-up time by 15 minutes every couple of days, so eventually you’re adding 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, then a full hour to their original time. So when the clocks “fall back” an hour, your little one is already used to waking up at the new time.
If that’s confusing, here’s the chart I use for my Chasing Dream families.
What if you didn’t prepare?
Don’t panic. If you’re reading this on the day of the time change, there are still ways you can help your child adjust without a huge interruption in your family’s sleep. You are still going to use the 15-minute increment method, so your child’s entire schedule will shift forward by 15 minutes when the time changes. If they normally wake up at 7 AM, try to stretch their wake-up time by 15 minutes and wake them up at 7:15. Put them down for their 2 PM nap at 2:15 PM. Push bedtime from 7 PM to 7:15 PM. Do this for a couple of days, then adjust forward by 15 minutes again so you are adding 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, then the full hour to their new wake-up time.
If you’re confused, this graphic might be easier to understand.
If none of this is making sense, don’t hesitate to reach out! You can find me @chasingdreamssleep on Instagram and Facebook or in my Formerly Tired Moms Club on Facebook!
What about my baby that doesn’t have a set sleep schedule like older kids?
From birth to 6 months of age, no real schedule exists yet. You just need to keep proper age-appropriate Wake Times. For 3-4 days, keep a slightly earlier bedtime, then resume your usual bedtime.
How can I spot signs my child is overtired due to the time change?
Most parents are pretty good at identifying the signs of fatigue, but here are a few of the common ones you can look for to help time your child’s sleep schedule during the time change transition:
- Rubbing eyes
- Red-rimmed eyes
- Rubbing or pulling ears
- Rubbing or scratching nose
- Rubbing face into objects (such as your shoulder or a blanket)
- Arching back
What if the time change is the least of my sleep problems?
Are you exhausted and tired of googling solutions that just never seem to solve your sleep struggles for good? Are you dreading the time change because you’re already losing sleep due to early morning wakings, bedtime tantrums, middle-of-the-night wakings, failed naptimes, or a combination of any of these? It may be time to call in a professional.
Schedule a FREE Sleep Consultation on my website to learn how my sleep training methods have helped hundreds of families like yours find real, lasting solutions that help them finally get more sleep!