Daylight Saving Time Sleep Tips
February is ending and you flip the calendar over to March, happy that spring is on its way.
Then all of a sudden it hits you-the time change is COMING!
Cue the dramatic music! (Or, the theme from Jaws)
You JUST got your child on a decent sleep routine and now THIS happens. Who comes up with these things anyways, you think.
But don’t fear, dear parent, I’ve got you covered with some daylight saving time sleep tips-spring edition.
The Beginning of Daylight Saving Time In North America
The second Sunday in March, is when the clocks will move ahead one hour at 2:00am. This marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. Parents generally worry about either time change, but this one allows most parents to breath a sigh of relief.
Like most things associated with spring, this time change is a positive one for most parents as this is generally easier on parents (and children). In theory, parents will get an extra hour of sleep. Woohoo!
And to parents of early risers: time to celebrate! You are about to have a child that wakes at a more reasonable hour.
For those of you that want to know if you should be doing anything to help your child adjust and to keep the current routine you already have, here are some tips:
Daylight Saving Time Sleep Tips:
1. Relax !
Our bodies are regulated by different body clocks, or circandian rhythms and the master clock ( suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN) is located in our brain close to optic nerve. This means the SCN is influenced by the changes in light throughout the day. So as the time change happens, a person’s body will naturally make the adjustments over the course of about a week.
2. Shift your child’s routine.
If you have a great routine in place and really don’t want it to change, you can choose to shift your child’s routine in small increments before the time change happens. Start about a few days to a week before and slowly move your child’s entire routine earlier each day. It is important to not only start nap times earlier, but also meal and activity times so that you are helping reset the whole body clock. And yes, this does mean that you would need to wake your child up earlier too. 😉
3. Be flexible
Even adults feel a bit “off” for a few days when we experience a change in time change or routine, so you can expect your child will too. Depending on your child’s age and how well they’re sleeping, moving them to the new naptimes, which are an hour earlier than what their body is used to may be met with some resistance. If you want to ease your child into it, split the difference and put them down 30 minutes later (on the clock) for the first few days. For instance; if your child usually naps at 1pm, it will feel like 12pm once the time change happens and they may lay there for a long time before falling asleep. You can put your child down at 1:30pm (which will feel like 12:30pm) for a few days after the switch to help your child fall asleep quicker.
4. Protect the New Routine
This is one of the easiest daylight saving time sleep tips, but often overlooked and that is to protect your child’s sleep routine. The early morning is when our sleep drive is the weakest due to the low levels of melatonin in our bodies and we, especially our children, are more easily woken up and find it harder to return to sleep.
In the summer not only does the sun rise earlier, but so do the birds.
Regardless of what the neighbours think; cover your child’s windows-garbage bags, towels, dark sheets or fancy blackout blinds. It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s dark and stops the early sun from waking your child up too early.
And in regards to the birds, they are lovey, but they can be loud in the summer, so invest in some white noise. There are great sound machines on the market (make sure they play continuously and don’t shut off after 45 minutes), but a fan, radio on static, white noise on a CD or Ipod, can all be great alternatives to help muffle the birds that start to sing at 4am.
These are a few tips to help with the onset of Daylight Savings Time. If you find that after a week, your child’s routine hasn’t settled, then Baby Sleep 101 is always here to help you with a customized sleep plan to tackle those persistent sleep problems.
Want more sleep tips to help your child sleep through the night? Be sure to download our free sleep guide here.
And if you have a quick question, be sure to join the Baby Sleep 101 free Facebook Q & A sessions on Wednesday nights from 8-9pm CST.
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It’s so nice to have someone provide useful tips! 🙂 That being said, for my oldest, I found that daytime routines didn’t need to be adjusted very much. We just gradually adjusted her bedtime to make up for the time change and I expect we’ll be doing the same this year. Last Spring my youngest was just half a year old and still napping twice a day. Somehow, with minor adjustments to nap times (and to mealtimes for the first couple days), she adjusted to the time change really well. She’s always been a really good sleeper (with the occasional wrench thrown in like this morning when, for no apparent reason, she decided 5:00 was an acceptable time to wake up instead of her usual 6/6:30). But, for some reason I’m really stressing about how the time change will affect her this time. Do I just wing it? Or do I try adjusting schedules to make sure she adjusts well to the change? 🙂
If she is overall a great sleeper, then you don’t have to worry too much. Expect a few ‘off’ days, but within a week, things should be back to normal. Expose her to the morning sun to help reset her clock as our circadian rhythms are regulated by the master clock, the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) which is located where the optic nerves intersects in the brain. The SCN will adjust her body clock as it receives light at different times over the week. Just like when you travel to different time zones, your SCN eventually adjusts to the local time. 🙂
Thanks! Then I won’t worry and just let it work itself out when the time changes! 🙂