It is hard to believe that the days of long, carefree summer evenings are over and the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) is upon us. On Sunday, November 2, 2014, the clocks will be moved back by one hour. If your children easily adjust to the time change, you may be lucky 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. The end of DST can be a source of stress for all families of young ones, and especially for those who have recently spent a great deal of effort, patience, consistency, and time to establish healthy sleep routines with their children. The following tips should help make this transition as seamless as possible.
For the less sensitive baby or child
* Go with the flow. There is no need to prepare your child for the time change. Come Sunday, adjust the entire day to the new time including naps, bedtime, and meals. Within a few days his body will 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. On Wednesday, October 29th, begin to shift the bedtime later by 15 minutes. Each subsequent day, shift the bedtime an additional 15 minutes. Be sure to adjust his entire day (naps, bedtime, and meals) and not just sleep times. By Sunday, your little ones’ body will already be on the way to adjusting to the new time.
Tips for making Sunday as smooth as possible
* If your little one wakes early in the morning on Sunday, November 2nd, do your best to get him to go back to sleep until the regular wake time (according to the new time). If he does wake early, on Sunday only, go ahead and get him out of bed a bit earlier than his regular wake time.
* Keep him awake until the correct time for his naps (according to the new time). Spending time outdoors will help make this more successful.
* In the evening, do your best to keep your child awake until his regular bedtime (according to the new time).
Overall tips for success
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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 in order so your little one is not overtired. A well-rested sleeper will handle this transition much more smoothly than an overtired child!
Have realistic expectations
* It could 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.