Guest written by Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions
The end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) is here! It is hard to believe that the days of long, carefree summer evenings are over. On Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 2am, the clocks will be moved back by one hour. Any disruption to our little one’s sleep patterns can be tough, but there are a few tricks to make the end of DST as seamless as possible.
- Spend lots of time outdoors: Physical activity will help ensure that your little one is tuckered out in time for naps and bedtime. Natural light is one of the best ways to reset our internal clocks.
- Keep the routine consistent: Continue with your calm and predictable bedtime routine so your little one knows exactly what to expect. Sunday, November 6 is probably not the time to have your kids stay up late or invite guests over to the house.
- Be sure your child’s sleep environment is ideal: Cave-like darkness and white noise will make a big difference. Consider using a toddler clock for your children (toddler age and older) that lights up when it is time for their day to start.
- Keep them well rested: With any change to schedule or routine, the more rested your little one can be leading up to the change, the more successful the transition will be. Spend time now getting naps and night sleep so your little one is not overtired. A well-rested sleeper will handle this transition much more smoothly than an overtired child!
- Adjust the lighting: For the first week or two after DST ends, keep the lights a bit dimmer for the first hour or so after waking in the morning and the lights a bit brighter for the last hour of the day. This will help reset your child’s internal clock to the new time.
For the Less Sensitive Baby or Child
- Go with the flow. There is no need to prepare your child for the time change. Within a few days his body will adjust. Come Sunday, adjust the entire day to the new time including naps, bedtime, and meals. Within a few days, he’ll adjust.
For Those Children Who Have Some Difficulty with Sleep Transitions
- Start the transition to the new time several days before the end of DST. Shift the bedtime later by 15 minutes every two days leading up to November 6. Be sure to adjust the entire day (naps, bedtime, and meals) and not just sleep times. By Sunday, your little one’s body will already be on the way to adjusting to the new time.
Tips for Making Sunday as Smooth as Possible
- Adjust the entire day to the new time including wake-up, naps, bedtime, and meals.
- If your child wakes early, do your best to keep him in his crib or bed until his regular wake-time. Delaying his exposure to natural light will help reset his internal clock.
- If necessary, you can meet halfway for nap time. For example, if your baby naps at 9 a.m., you can put him down at 8:30 a.m. for the first day while he adjusts to the new time. The rest of the day will follow suit.
Have Realistic Expectations
- If your children easily adjust to the time change, you may be one of those lucky parents and get an extra hour of sleep. Most of you, however, should expect that your children will wake for the day up to an hour earlier until their bodies have adjusted to the new time. It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks for your little one’s internal clock to reset to the new time. As with all sleep training, the most important thing is for Mom and Dad to approach this transition with patience, confidence, and consistency.
Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute-certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in-person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Feel free to email her with any questions. You can find out more information at her website and on her Facebook page.