Daylight Savings – Spring
Daylight savings time is coming up this weekend. Most parents don’t mind it so much in the fall when they gain an extra hour, but it sends fear through people’s bones when they hear they are going to have to lose an hour of sleep! Every year I get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle daylight savings time and children’s sleep. So here it is:
If I had my way, there would not be a daylight savings time. I think it really does affect not only children’s sleep patterns but adults, too. In fact, statistically, there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after daylight savings time kicks in. It really does influence all of us, and it can increase our sleep debt – especially in children, who 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.
So, what is the best way to handle it?
My advice is to “split the difference.”
Children who no longer nap you will simply split the difference between the old time and the new time. If your child goes to bed at 7:30pm normally, you would then put them to bed at 8pm on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night. On the 4th night, Wednesday, you will put your child to bed at their normal time of 7:30pm.
Toddlers that are older than 1 year, on Sunday you will put them down for their first nap 30 minutes earlier. If a nap is normally 9am, you will put them down at 9:30am. The same tactic applies to the second nap and bed. You will do this for 3 nights. On the 4th night, you will put your toddler to bed at their normal time. This same tactic works for toddlers and preschoolers who are napping only once per day.
Infants that are napping 3 or more times during the day you will be adjusting their schedule by 15 minute increments every 3 days until you are back to their normal schedule. If your baby normal naps at 8am for their first nap, you would put them down at 8:45am for 3 days, then 8:30am for 3 days, then 8:15am for 3 days and finally on the 10th day they will be back to their normal nap time. You will do this for every single nap they have that day as well as bedtime. If bedtime is normally 7pm, on Sunday night you will put baby down at 7:45pm for 3 nights, then 7:30pm for 3 nights, etc…
Of course, if you don’t mind the change in time and it’s actually something you would prefer, then don’t change a thing and just wait until Daylight Savings ends in November.
Lastly, it may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, this is normal, since the time is different initially, they won’t be as tired. It usually takes a week to 10 days for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time, some children it can take up to a month. Be patient and consistent, it will happen.