Sure, “spring forward, fall back” has a nice ring to it—but we think most parents would agree that those four little words fail to capture the bleary-eyed struggle of a Daylight Savings Time shift. For children who are used to a certain sleep schedule, moving the clock forward or back an hour can be a big deal. That’s why we decided to share a few simple tips to minimize the effect of that pesky time change.
When You’re Springing Forward
The best way to prepare for a successful Daylight Savings Time shift is to use the days leading up to it to slowly adapt, rather than expecting everyone’s internal clocks to reset as easily as your iPhone’s clock. Think of it like easing into a swimming pool rather than cannon-balling into the deep end.
The week before Daylight Savings Time begins is prep time for your little sleeper. Gradually shift your child’s bedtime a little earlier each night to make the adjustment as smooth as possible; if your child’s bedtime is 8 p.m., shift it to 7:45 p.m., and then 7:30 p.m., and so on, aiming to get as close to 7 p.m. as you can. She may not actually fall asleep until the usual bedtime, but by starting the bedtime process earlier, you are encouraging her to calm down and prepare for sleep sooner.
You can apply the same principle of a step-by-step adjustment to the end of Daylight Savings Time—just gradually shift your child’s bedtime later instead of earlier. If you find that your child is adapting to the new bedtime easily but still waking up at his usual hour (which is now one hour earlier), hang in there. It may take longer for his waketime to adjust, but that extra-early start to the day will eventually catch up to him and he’ll start to sleep longer.
General Tips and Tricks for Daylight Savings
Here are a few more handy survival tips for the start and end of Daylight Savings:
- If your child has a hard time sleeping when it’s still light out, try managing the light in his room. Blackout shades and dimmer switches can help reinforce the bedtime routine and convincing him that it actually is time to sleep.
- If the end of Daylight Savings Time usually causes your child to wake up too early, make sure you emphasize the right time to start the day. Encourage your child to stay in bed and don’t turn on lights or do anything else to increase alertness.
- Whether Daylight Savings Time is ending or beginning, it’s important to stick to your child’s usual bedtime routine. Establishing a new sleep habit (like a different bedtime) is easier when there are other healthy sleep habits to soften the change.
And Don’t Forget, Parents…
Daylight Savings Time affects you, too! While helping your kids adjust to the time change is important for everyone, don’t forget about your own sleep health. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Cut yourself some sleep slack after the time change. Your internal clock should adjust on its own but it’s perfectly understandable if you’re feeling sluggish, so don’t be too hard on yourself. If a quick afternoon nap helps, and you have the time, go for it. Just try not to indulge in extra sleep in the morning because it can make the transition even more difficult.
- Be extra careful about alcohol and caffeine consumption when there’s a Daylight Savings Time shift in the works. Both substances can throw a wrench in how your body adjusts to its new schedule.
- We talked about how it’s important to maintain your child’s usual sleep routine during a Daylight Savings Time change—but your own routine is just as important. Keep as close to your regular sleep hours as possible so your usual sleep pattern isn’t disturbed.
- Apply the same rules for your child’s bedtime to yours: limit or eliminate electronics before bed, invest in blackout shades, and get in the habit of doing something relaxing before sleeping.
We hope this Daylight Savings guide helps you spring forward and fall back like a pro. If you have other sleep questions or are wondering how Lully might help your child, please feel free to reach out.