Sleep Tips for the Spring Daylight Savings
Spring is coming and that means the clocks are moving ahead an hour. Oh joy! If you are wondering how to help your child adjust to the time change don’t panic and read on!
Spring ahead is usually an easier time change then the fall-back and for parent’s of an early riser, it can be good news! Losing an hour of sleep can be difficult on everyone, but especially children who are more sensitive to lost sleep than adults. The good news is, it usually only takes about a week for everyone to adjust fully to the new time.
Depending on the age of your child and their temperament, there are a few different options to make the time change easier on your child and on you! Here are some tips to help you feel ready to tackle daylight savings:
- If your baby is an easy, more adaptable baby, you can continue on as usual and offer food and sleep at the usual time on the new clock. You may find that your baby may not be as sleepy at bedtime and may require more support from you to help them transition to sleep. Remember that light or lack of light drives the circadian rhythm, so have the lights dimmed an hour before bedtime, expose your baby to lots of natural light in the morning and make sure you have those blackout blinds up to stop early morning light from filtering in and causing an early waking (this can set the clock, so this is important).
- If your baby is more sensitive, you may want to take a gradual approach to shifting wake and sleep times. Starting on Thursday, start shifting your baby’s whole schedule later by 15 minutes so bedtime falls at their regular time on Sunday night. If your baby is extra sensitive, you can start shifting bedtime, wake-time, naps and meals ahead by 10 minutes right away.
- Start shifting your child’s schedule by 20 minutes daily so that by Sunday, they are going to bed at their usual time. Make sure to wake your toddler from their nap at least 5 hours before bedtime to ensure they have adequate sleep drive to fall asleep at bedtime. Don’t forget to darken your home one hour prior to sleep and expose them to daylight in the morning when you wake them. If your child is in the process of dropping their nap and is an occasional napper, you can skip naps on the weekend and move bedtime earlier by 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday. This will help ensure your little one has enough sleep drive to fall asleep at bedtime.
The strongest drive to be awake is right before bedtime (thanks to the circadian rhythm), so that burst of energy your kiddo gets in the evening is going to be when you are trying to get your little one down. Lots of extra down-time and soothing, calming activities will help your child settle into sleep. Be diligent not to create any new habits (such as a million requests at bedtime) these habits can sometimes stick-eeek!
For early risers:
Congratulations! Spring ahead is your handy little helper to get your child sleeping in later. If night-time sleep is adequate, then all you have to do is put them down by the clock and you have a child who was previously sleeping at 7:30 and waking at 5:30, now sleeping at 8:30 and waking at 6:30-voila! If your child’s night sleep wasn’t adequate for their age prior to the time change, you can shift bedtime earlier by 15 minutes, but if you see an early rising –stop! An early rising is indicating that they have maxed out their night sleep, so shift back by 15 minutes and you have your new set bedtime.
Daylight savings can be a pain, but with a solid plan and some patience, everyone will be adjusted and back to normal in no time. If you have difficulty getting back on track after spring-ahead, contact me and I’ll help you sort it out.