A time change can have minimal effect on some, but our little one’s sleep can be thrown right off track with just that 1 lost hour of sleep. Here are some tips to help your family “fall back” as smoothly as possible:
- Start early. Start by shifting their entire day schedule forward by 15 minutes each day. This means wake-up time, meals, naps and bedtime. This will prime their bodies slowly so that when Sunday comes their body clocks are ready. If you have a sensitive sleeper, one who needs a strict schedule, is very dependant on proper, scheduled naps and is greatly effected by a missed nap or sleep, then you will want to begin a slow schedule transition at least 1 week before Daylight Savings Time (DST). If your child is adaptable when it comes to sleep, 3-4 days of preparation will be suitable.
- Make use of light and dark to help their bodies adjust. Keep the room dark in the morning with black-out curtains or garbage bags on the window. This will block out the earlier morning sun and promote longer morning sleep. Keep the lights bright in the evening to adjust their body clocks later. Use a low-volume sound device to block out morning noises that may contribute to their waking, and keep your child’s room at a comfortable 20 degrees.
- For the early-risers: If your baby is already waking up before 6:00am, the fall time change is especially difficult because they will be waking even earlier. To transition them, leave them in their crib for an extra 15 minutes each morning leading up to DST. After DST, let them babble, whimper, talk or play in their crib until 6:00am every morning to promote this new wake time, and train their tummy’s and brains to adjust.
For toddlers and older children, make use of the wake-up clocks that are on the market. These clocks teach them the appropriate wake time for your family. Adjust the clock by 15 minutes each night leading up to DST.
- After DST be sensitive to extra sleep needs. They may need an early bedtime for a few nights, and extra nap here and there, or some quiet time during the day to catch up on lost sleep. Try to get outside as much as possible to encourage day-time sun exposure which helps to reset our internal clocks.