This article is generously contributed by professional sleep coach, Joanna Clark of Blissful Baby Sleep Coaching
The time change is coming.
You have probably noticed that the days have been getting shorter since the summer solstice on June 20. For 2016, the end of daylight-saving time will fall on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 a.m. At that time clocks will “fall back” and change from 2 a.m. back to 1 a.m.
The good news is that you will get a “bonus hour” of overall sleep and a “bonus hour” of light in the morning, so waking up will definitely be easier. In the evening, it will be darker one hour earlier, so often the day feels really short. You will find yourself wanting to “get cozy” and you and the kids will likely get drowsy earlier—and therefore bedtime will hopefully be easier.
To get ready, see my two strategies for the fall time change for children 6 months-5 yrs of age. Please know it can take up to 2 weeks for a child to make the transition to the new time change, so be patient and mindful of your child’s sleepy cues.
Be proactive and begin making changes to your routine 3-7 days prior to the time change (babies 6mo.-5yrs). This option is best for children that tend to be early risers or children that tend to be sensitive to schedule changes. These children usually benefit from gradually changing their schedule on the days leading up to the time change.
How to do it:
· Start putting your child to bed 10-15 minutes later than his or her normal naptime or bedtime and of course, make similar changes to the nap schedule.
· Every other day/night, try to “bump up” naptime/bedtime by 10-15 minutes. Do this until the night of the time change.
· The goal is to complete shifting your child’s bedtime schedule up by an hour by the time the clock changes. For example: your child’s normal nap time is 8:45am, bump it to 9am and do this for 2 days and then, bump to 9:15am for 2 days and so on. If you would rather “work” the bedtime angle than if bedtime is normally 7pm. During the days leading up to the time change, push bedtime to 7:15, 7:30, 7:45, 8pm…then when the time change happens, the 8pm bedtime will “FALL BACK” to 7pm and your child will already be in the mode for the new bedtime.
· If you try this method and your child starts waking before 6am, than STOP and go back to your old schedule. You will need to adjust to new time change in the “Just in time” method.
Use the “Just in Time” option: Sync with new clock times on November 6, 2016. If you don’t have the time or inclination to plan ahead, then you can simply respond to your child’s needs once the time change has happened. This means that all naps, meals and bedtime will automatically switch to the new time. This might also mean your child may wake earlier in the morning for the first week or so, but soon things will normalize.
How to do it:
· If your child starts to wake before 6am, (which is considered early) than it is imperative that you attend to this early rising or else it will persist.
· If you experience early rising, go to your child’s room, remind him or her it is still time for sleeping and try to soothe him or her back to sleep. (can use a tot clock for children 2.5 yrs of age and older)
· If the child does not go back to sleep, then use this strategy to make it “morning:” keep the room dark until 6am, then exit the room for 10-20 seconds, then re-enter the room and turn on the lights and open shades and then get your child out of bed.
· In this way, you will not be reinforcing early rising and eventually your child’s circadian rhythm will get back on track. If you have ongoing issues with early rising after 10-14 days after the time change, then I highly recommend reading my post on early rising.
· In either case, it is important for children to get their daily dose of Vitamin D with morning light exposure. Turn on the lights, open your shades and, most importantly, try to give your child morning sunlight for at least 20-30 minutes a day during that first 7-10 days of the time change. This will help to reset your child’s circadian rhythm.
It’s also important to protect your sleep! Here are my time change tips for adults:
Since you are gaining an hour of sleep, it is often easier just to go to sleep at your normal time on Saturday night and then allow yourself to sleep in on Sunday morning. Then for the first couple of days, please know that your body will be busy regulating to the new time change, so light exposure in the morning will really help your body adjust.
Like jet lag, time changes take about a week to resolve and so it is wise to be patient and try to adhere to a flexible schedule and you will begin to see it all normalize. Happy Fall!!
If after 2-3 weeks, you are still experiencing difficulties, than it might be time for a “time change tune-up” min consultation. I am now offering 15-60 minute “mini consults” to address immediate sleep concerns. Please visit my Services page to buy 15 increments of time to brainstorm and find solutions to your sleep concerns.