While switching to Daylight Saving Time may seem like a relatively small change in timing, this adjustment can significantly interfere with children’s sleep habits, not to mention our own.
Unfortunately, our internal body clocks don’t change as quickly or as easily as the changing of the dial (or the digits) on our real-world clocks. It often takes a bit more time, effort and advanced planning to help us and our children adjust, so here are a few tried-and-true tips to make that transition a little easier.
- Get a head start. In the week leading up to the Sunday switch, gradually ease your child’s bedtime forward by 15 minutes each night for the four nights prior to the time change. For babies younger than 6 months, be aware that internal sleep-wake cycles may not yet be fully developed, so don’t try to change their schedules too much.
- Adjust nap time. As you help your child adjust to a bedtime that is an hour earlier than what they’re used to, don’t forget to also gradually shift nap time forward a bit each day.
- Stay active. Getting a healthy dose of daily exercise helps improve sleep and can make the time change easier. Any time sleep patterns are disrupted, stay active to make sure you’re helping your body make the switch.
- Set the mood. Turning lights on and off at appropriate times and getting light-blocking blinds or shades in bedrooms can make the transition smoother.
- Turn off tech: Don’t forget to remove distractions, such as TVs and electronic games – they are known to negatively impact sleep.
- Maintain existing routines. While having a set bedtime routine is highly recommended in general, it becomes even more useful in getting things back on track as quickly as possible after a time change.
- Give it time. Making the switch from Daylight Saving Time isn’t always easy, even if you’ve employed every time-changing tip and trick in the book. Remember to set realistic expectations and exercise patience in the week or two after the switch, as you may find yourself and/or your child more fatigued and grumpy than usual.