This Sunday at 2 a.m., Daylight Savings Time ends and the clocks turn back one hour.
This used to be a much anticipated time when you could take advantage of that extra hour, but now as parents of young children, it’s just one more thing you have to navigate. Apparently the children didn’t get the memo about “Fall Back” and sleeping in!
When the clock turns back one hour, what used to be 7 a.m. is now 6 a.m. It becomes darker sooner in the evening and lighter sooner in the morning.
If you have an early morning riser already, you can expect it to be even earlier once you turn the clocks back.
Children who have good sleep hygiene and are generally easy going when it comes to schedules may adjust fairly easily in just a day or two.
Other children who are more sensitive to change in schedules may have more trouble adjusting.
Regardless of how your child might react, Jenn Kelner, a Family Sleep Institute Certified Child Sleep Consultant and owner of BabyZzz, shares these 5 easy tricks to help your child adjust to the end of Daylight Savings Time.
1. Plan ahead
You can prepare a few days ahead of time by moving your child’s entire daytime schedule ahead in 15 minute increments.
At the beginning of November, start by offering breakfast 15 minutes later than normal, then naptime 15 minutes later and so on until the entire daytime schedule has been shifted.
If your child normally goes to bed at 7 p.m., they should be going to bed at 7:15 p.m.
Do the same thing the next day but move their schedule ahead another 15 minutes.
The gradual shift should help their internal clocks adjust, making it less likely that they will lose an hour of sleep on Sunday, and hopefully sleep in!
2. Keep their bedroom dark
Make sure your child’s bedroom is really dark and consider using some room darkening curtains so that the new early morning light doesn’t wake your little one.
Keeping the room dark encourages the production of melatonin, which helps them stay sleepy.
3. Avoid rushing in
If your child does wake earlier than you would like, try to leave them to amuse themselves until the normal wake-up time to give their internal clocks a chance to reset.
By leaving them a little longer than normal, you also give them the opportunity to go back to sleep.
4. Expose them to plenty of daylight
Try to expose your child to plenty of light, especially in the morning. This helps reset their internal clock making it easier to adjust to the new time.
5. Earlier bedtime to catch up
If your child has lost some sleep due to the time change, plan for an earlier bedtime over the next few days to catch up.
Try not to worry if your children aren’t adjusting as well. Be patient and consistent and before you know it your children will be back on track.
» Family Sleep Institute
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 31, 2013