It’s that time of the year again that many of us (including myself) are not looking forward to. It’s Daylight Saving Time or what some call, “Fall Back Sunday”! On November 5, 2023 we will be shifting our clocks by one hour.
If you are worried about how to manage your little one’s sleep schedule, I am here to help. Below are a few options available to you:
Option 1: Start Early. A few days before DST, you are going to adjust your child’s schedule about 15 minutes each day (use 10-minute increments if your child is sensitive to a push in wake windows). Here is an example: If your child’s bedtime is at 7 PM, you will adjust bedtime to 7:15 PM on day 1, 7:30 PM on day 2, 7:45 PM on day 3, and so on. You continue this process until your child’s bedtime moves from 7 PM to 8 PM in anticipation of the one-hour time change. With this approach, you also want to push out initial wakeup, naptime, and mealtime as much as you can by 15 minutes each day as well.
Option 2: Start day of DST. Push naptime, mealtime and bedtime 15 minutes every day for about a week and/or until they go back to their “regular” schedule. For example, if your child typically wakes up at 7 AM, there is a chance they will wake up at 6 AM on the day of DST. The same will happen with naptime. Therefore, pushing out naptime, mealtime and bedtime later by 15 minutes will help them get back on track.
Option 3: Do nothing and go with the flow. This is a great option for children who adapt fairly well to change. If you are OK with the adjustment to your child’s schedule, this option is good for you.
No matter what option you choose, one way you can help your child adjust their internal clock is by using two very important variables: light and dark.
Use blackout curtains to ensure your child does not wake up too early in the morning. This will help them adjust better to their new schedule when it comes to nap-time and bedtime as a dark room can help them fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
When your child is awake, keep the house bright and/or take them outside for a walk as it will help influence their internal clock and make falling asleep easier for them.
Light is a key principle in helping our bodies adjust more quickly to the time change.
Stay calm and consistent!
You got this!
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant
Oct 30, 2023