Springing forward: Sleep tips for Daylight Savings

sunny sleeping babyRemember the days when you used to lament that you had one less hour of sleep at night every spring?  Here is your chance to celebrate the beginning of Daylight Savings (which, for 2017, begins early Sunday morning, March 12).  This is the one day a year that your kids will wake up later.  For those of you with early risers, enjoy it!

In general, children typically adjust to time changes with in a few days.  Here are some tips to help keep things on track:

  • Maintain your consistent and predictable bedtime routines.  These activities are comforting to your child as you prepare for the separation of sleep.  Children develop strong associations between bedtime routine and sleep and it helps them to anticipate what comes next.
  • Make sure your child’s room is dark, even when it is light outside.  This becomes much more important with the spring time change as it will be begin to get light earlier in the day and it is often also still light at bedtime.  In the middle of the summer when the sun is coming up at 5:30am, you want to make sure that it is still dark in your child’s room or wherever he/she is sleeping.  Having a darkened room will make it easier to sleep at bedtime as well.
  • Continue to respond to your child consistently for any awakenings.
  • Change your clocks before going to bed on Saturday night.

As far as preparing your child for the time change, some children will adjust on there own as you begin to implement their normal schedule in the new time.  If this is your plan and your baby normally naps at 9am and 2pm, continue to put him down at 9am and 2pm in the new time.  You may notice a few days of it taking longer to fall asleep for naps and bedtime as his body hasn’t quite regulated to the fact that it is now an hour later.

If your baby is particularly sensitive to these sorts of changes, you can try to prepare your child for the time change by shifting his schedule 15 minutes earlier, starting 4 days before the time change happens.  This means that starting on Wednesday, wake your child from his naps 15 minutes earlier then normal.  Put him to bed 15 minutes earlier at bedtime, you can also work on waking him 15 minutes earlier the next morning as well and shift each nap a bit earlier each day.  You can also respond “post time change” by waking your child 15 minutes earlier on Sunday morning and throughout the day.  This can be done a little less gradually by shifting the schedule 30 minutes earlier over 2 days versus 15 minutes over 4 days.

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