Daylight Savings Time & Sleep

Nov 07, 2012
Daylight Savings Time & Sleep
Daylight Savings Time & Sleep

Daylight Savings Time and Sleep

Who doesn’t look forward to that extra hour of sleep when it’s time to move back the clocks and “fall backwards”? My heart still skips a happy beat every autumn when I push the clock’s reset button and collect my “bonus hour” of snoozing. (By the way, this year the date is November 4th.) For parents of young children, however, the end of Daylight Savings Time can cause stress and worry about children waking up one hour earlier, schedules being thrown off, and hard won sleep habits falling apart. But time changes don’t have to wreak havoc with your family’s days and nights. With a little planning your child can transition easily to the new time. Use one or a combination of the following methods and your child’s sleep schedule should be back on track in a few days to a week.

1) Cold Turkey: When the time changes, switch to the new time right away. Switch all meals, activities, and naps to the new time as well. Wake up times may be a bit off for a few days but don’t worry – they’ll adjust. And remember – never start the day before 6am. Anything earlier can throw off your schedule for the day. If your child has a fairly easy temperament, adjustment should be quick and painless.

2) Work up to it: This approach is helpful for children that may be more sensitive to being overtired and changes in schedules, or children who tend wake up early. Start adjusting four days before the time change by moving bedtime and wake up time fifteen minutes later each day. You can even go more slowly if you’d prefer – start sooner and move the times by five or ten minutes at a time. At the new wake up time, turn the lights on and expose your child to natural light to help reset their internal clock.

3) Fix it afterwards: Wait until the day of the time change and adjust the child’s schedule over the next few days. This method does involve a few early mornings, but works well with children that tend to get over-tired and have trouble making it to the new bedtime

By the way, these methods work the same way in reverse, when it’s time to “spring forward” and move the clocks ahead.

For more information about our new sleep specialist call, 203-431-8400.

Sweet dreams,

Alison Bevan