Losing an hour…
Daylight saving time begins each spring season and it seems to creep earlier and earlier each year! This year the change is happening this Sunday (March 13th) at 2:00 am. We will “spring forward” the clocks to give ourselves an entire hour of extra daylight each evening.
Most adults don’t mind the time change in the fall when gaining an extra hour of sleep, but the idea of the time change in spring creates lots of mind drama. It is nice that it stays lighter later, but who wants to miss out on 60 sweet minutes of slumber?
The start of daylight saving time is dreaded by parents because even changing time by one hour can wreak havoc on sleep schedules. Babies, toddlers and school age-children experience a longer “lag time” adjusting to the time change, especially if they have a fairly defined schedule already. This happens when children have established circadian rhythms. So changing the clocks doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but the body clock is resistant to change.
As Sleeper Teachers® we constantly have parents asking for the best way to handle the time change and children’s sleep. So without any further ado… Let’s get to it!
How do I help my family adjust to the extra sunshine?
Later sunsets are nice, except for sleep!
Another tip that is helpful this time of year is to darken the bedrooms in your house in the evening! As we get closer and closer to summer, kiddos may struggle to fall asleep while it is still light outside.
Darkening the room can be very helpful to avoid any extra bedtime protest. Even though there are extra hours of daylight in the spring and summer, little ones still need the same amount of sleep, so it is important to maintain a bedtime that is similar to what you had during the winter.
Watch out for the sneaky evening!
We often hear from parents that this time change is particularly tough because it is easy to lose track of what time it is in the evening. You get the kiddos home from school/activities/daycare and next thing you know, it is 7:00 pm and still light out but and you haven’t even started to cook dinner.
Our advice here is to set an alarm on your phone to signal for you the start of dinner and winding down. It may sound silly, but if you can get your own evening on track, you are far more likely to see success with your keeping your family on a nice routine.
How do I help my family adjust to the new schedule?
The time change is one of those things that shouldn’t be complicated, but it can be. Don’t overthink it since we’ve already done the thinking for you. Below we have broken down the various age groups with schedule adjustments and have included an example scenario for each age group.
Please notice that for springing forward there isn’t a whole lot of “prep” you can do with schedules ahead of time. Instead, spend time before Sunday, March 13th adjusting the sleep environment and routine and start the schedule changes the day of the time change!
Newborns and young babes without a set sleep schedule
If your little one’s bedtime is not predictable (mostly for babies under six months old), simply jump to the new time Sunday night based on their current wake windows. If your little one normally goes to bed 1.5 hours after his last nap of the day, then you will follow that as normal, no matter what time the clock reads!
At this age, adjustments happen quickly as parents are typically following time spent awake rather than a set bedtime! This is one major benefit of following wake windows.
Infants and Toddlers (6 months to 4 years)
If you have a baby or toddler with a predictable bedtime (babe is most often going to bed around the same time each night), you will adjust the difference by making naps and bedtime 15 minute EARLIER than their “new normal” starting Sunday.
For example, if bedtime is normally 7:00 pm, the clock will now read 8:00 (on Sunday night). Rather than trying to make it to bedtime at 8:00 pm for bedtime, you will move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night (from the “new” time) until you reach the normal time. So Sunday night you would put babe down at 7:45 pm (will feel like 6:45), Monday night at 7:30 pm, Tuesday night at 7:15 pm and Wednesday night will be back to normal at 7:00 pm! This 15-minute gradual approach should not impact the morning wake-up times of your little one as much as adjusting the full hour would.
We recommend this same technique for naps, too. A 10:00 nap (clock will now read 11:00), will take place at 10:45 on Sunday, then 10:30 on Monday, then 10:15 on Tuesday, then back to 10:00 by Wednesday.
School-age kiddos, teens and adults
For the older kiddos, we will split the difference here with a 30-minute adjustment. If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 8:00 pm (clock now reads 9:00 pm), you would put him to bed at 8:30 pm on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. This will feel like 7:30 to them, but it is better than adjusting the full hour and having it feel like 7:00 pm!
Stick with this 30-minute adjustment for three nights, then on the Wednesday night put your kiddo to bed at 8:00 pm, or their normal (before daylight saving time) bedtime.
This same strategy rings true for adults! Remember to adjust your bedtime by 30 minutes earlier Sunday-Tuesday and then go back to “normal” by Wednesday night. Ta-Da!
What to expect this sleep-filled spring forward
Even with the gradual changes outlined above, it may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, and this is totally normal. Since the time is different and their bodies think it is earlier than the clocks say, it is possible that they won’t be as tired at bedtime to start.
This can be shocking to parents because we are just talking about such a gradual adjustment, if you follow the plan above. But, change is change! You can expect for it to take about a week for the full adjustment to made. Be patient and consistent… It will happen!
Got questions about springing forward?
With the time change coming up, we want to be sure that you have all the sleep support you need because that's just the way we roll. We've invited sleep expert and founder of Sleeper Teachers, Brittney, to share a video with us on about how to walk through these daylight saving tips. Head to our IG account @sleepbabyinc to get your hands on this video.
Enjoy the extra sunshine, the fresh blooms and a sleep-filled spring forward!
Brittney Stefanic is a certified whole-family sleep consultant and founder of Sleeper Teachers Sleep Consulting. As a work at home mom boss and former classroom teacher, she understands that this one hour time change can be a doozy. As a sleep educator, Brittney believes in the power of sleep and knows that it is integral to the wellbeing of each family. Brittney and her team love educating and supporting families around the world in finding sleep solutions. You can follow the teachers on Pinterest and Instagram @sleeperteachers for sleep tips and tricks.