Daylight savings is tomorrow, which means you’re probably losing sleep over the fact that you and your little one will be losing an hour of, well, SLEEP! Yes, your baby will be waking up at what seems like a later hour, but in fact, that one-hour time change is enough to result in a cranky baby…and a cranky mama! This year, I’m getting a TON of questions about daylight savings time and children’s sleep. So let’s talk!
First, here is a little history lesson. Daylight Saving Time (DST) was first used in Thunder Bay, Canada in 1908 to help save energy and make better use of daylight. Since then, over 70 countries have hopped on board. When it was first implemented, more daylight was a good thing because it meant less use of artificial light, which did help save energy. However, with the substantial use of modern technology today, the amount of energy that is actually saved through DST is very insignificant. For that reason and numerous others, many people argue that it seems to be doing more harm than good. Each year, there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after DST kicks in. Furthermore, it can increase our sleep debt – especially for children, who tend to have more structure around sleep and bedtime. This is why we mostly notice the affects in young children.
So what is the best way to handle it? My advice is to split the difference.
First off, leave your clocks alone until the actual day of DST. For either “falling back” or “springing forward”, it’s confusing and can be psychologically frustrating to see your little one wake up an hour earlier or losing an hour of sleep. Get up at your usual time and start your day. After your first cup of coffee and some breakfast, then you can go ahead and change all your clocks. Trust me, you’ll feel much better this way!
For “Springing Forward”
If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30am, split the hour difference and put him down at 10:00am for the first three days of DST. It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not such a significant difference that it will have such an effect on his schedule. Do the same for his afternoon nap.
For bedtime, let’s say your little one goes to bed at 7:00pm. The same “splitting the difference” rule applies here, so you would put your child down for bed at 7:30pm for the first three days after DST. This will mean that your child is going to bed a little earlier, but the change is not so much that it will interfere with his schedule too much. Yes, it may take him a little longer to fall asleep because he may not be as tired, but in a week’s time, he will be back on track again.
On the fourth night, get in line with the new time so that your child is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00pm. Adjust naps to the correct time on day four as well.
For “Falling Back”
You would also split the difference but in this case, you would move naptimes and bedtimes back a half hour. For example, if your little one takes his morning nap at 9:30am, you would adjust his naptime to 9:00am for the first three days. With bedtime, you would put him down at 6:30pm, versus 7pm.
On day and night four, move his naptimes and bedtimes to the correct time on the clock again.
Just like any other change to your little one’s sleep habits, these changes will take roughly a week for your child to get used Hang in there Mama! 🙂
For more Daylight Savings tips, or help implementing a friendly sleep schedule for your little one, contact me!