Preparing for Daylight Savings Time

dreamstime_xs_41465602Just about the time when your kids have the “perfect” sleep schedule, daylight saving time comes or goes and that changes everything. It’s that time of year again! The end of daylight saving time causes kids to wake earlier than usual and generally throws off naps and bedtime schedules. Whether you have an infant, toddler or young child, your kids’ sleep schedules are tied to their internal clocks and when they’re used to going to sleep. They’re not necessarily tied to what time the clock says it is. As you look forward to Halloween, it’s time to think about your preparations for “falling back” again.

This year, we fall back on Sunday, November 6. At 2 a.m., we’ll move our clocks back one hour, reverting to standard time. We’ll gain back that hour we lost in March when we switched to daylight saving time. As our days get shorter, it gets darker earlier in the afternoon. We recommend that you  get your kids adjusted to the time change by Saturday, November 5 so that you have one extra day of “wiggle room” before the kids head back to school or daycare or you head back to work on Monday.

Preparing your child for the time change is really quite simple. When you shift your child’s schedule gradually, as opposed to a one hour adjustment all at once, you can minimize exhaustion and frustration. Begin with bedtime on Sunday, October 30. Move your child’s bedtime forward by 15 minutes every other night so that by November 5, you’ve worked your way to the new time.  Make sure that you shift wake times, meal times and nap times accordingly. A slow and steady adjustment will be easier for you and for your child.

All of this is quite simple if your child has a solid foundation for good sleep habits. A few quick reminders for things that are really important no matter what time of year it is.

  • A super dark and cool bedroom is the best in environment for sleep.
  • A bedtime routine of 20-30 minutes and nap routine of 10-15 minutes helps your child transition from awake time to sleep time.
  • When the sun rises earlier, resist the temptation to start your kids’ day before 6 a.m.

If you keep these things in mind and start a week prior to the actual time change, you’ll be in good shape when 2 a.m. rolls around on Sunday, November 6.