The end of Daylight Savings is coming up this weekend. Unfortunately the start, and end, of Daylight Savings affects not only children’s sleep patterns but adults, too. In fact, statistically, there is an increase in traffic accidents the Monday after daylight savings time kicks in.
It really does have an effect on all of us, and it can increase our sleep debt – especially in children.
Children tend to be much more structured with going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. That is usually why people notice it the most in young children.
It takes us all roughly a week to adjust to any kind of change in sleeping habits.
So what is the best way to handle it?
SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE
On the night we are due to put our clocks back (this coming Saturday night – 6th April) leave the clocks alone.
Get up at your usual time and start the day.
After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!
On this day, if your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30am, adjust it to 9am for 2-3 days. It will be a bit of a push, as it will feel like 10am initially. Not too much of a push, however, that it will derail her sleep schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap*.
Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7pm.
Firstly, I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30pm for the first 2-3 nights after the clock change. This will FEEL like 7:30 to your child.
Secondly, to make things as easy as possible, keep the morning up time the same.
This means, keeping the expectation of when up time is, the same.
If you have a toddler that is using a digital clock and ‘Super 7’ is the time they can get out of bed (or leave their room), don’t change this expectation. You may find they have woken quite a bit earlier than this, however, the rules don’t change. No getting out of their room until Super 7.
Eventually your toddler, and her body, will adjust to the time change, and she will wake up closer to her usual wake up time.
There is nothing wrong with an early bedtime to help on days they really have woken up too early and struggling to get through the day happily.
If you have a young baby
You cannot set expectations quite so easily as you can for older children.
So, if your baby has woken around an hour earlier than usual, don’t rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up. You do not want to send a message that getting up at 6am is okay now.
So if she normally wakes at 7am, but is now up at 6am, wait 10 minutes before going in to get her up on the first day. Wait 20 minutes before you go into her the next morning; then 6:30am the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.
On the fourth night, get in line with the new time.
Have your toddler and baby going to bed at their usual time. Adjust naps to the usual time on day 4 as well.
*If your baby is not on a forced nap schedule, i.e you are going by awake times, other than working on pushing that up time of the day out, simply stick to the relevant awake times throughout the day.